Alfheim | Norse Mythology


Alfheim, (Old Norse álfheimr "world of the elves"), is in Norse mythology the dwelling place of the Vanir god Freyr.

Additionally Snorri Sturluson refers to Alfheim in the Prose Edda as the home of the light elves (ljósálfar). In terms of space, for him the place is in the sky in contrast to the home of the dark elves deep in the earth.

The connection between the Vanir and Elves results from the chthonic nature of both.

Snorri's separation into a light and a dark Elves world is obviously Christianly motivated, but it is already inherent in the two-sided nature of the Elves, which is closely related to the fertility cult and its death-and-return myth.

The Ancient Kings of Alfheim

According to Saxo Grammaticus (a Danish historian who lived from 1150 to 1220), in his eighth book (Deeds of Damage), the sons of King Gandalf the Elder gathered with King Harold for the battle of Bråvalla.

The Sogubrot names Gandalf's sons as Álfar (Álfarr) and Álfarin (Álfarinn) and places them as members of King Harold's guard. It is assumed that both died in the battle. But the kingdom of Gandolfo is not identified in these texts.

The Sögubrot also relates that Sigurd Hring (Sigurðr Hringr), who was Harold's viceroy on the Swedish throne, married Álfhild, daughter of King Elf the Old, of Álfheim. But in an earlier passage she appears as a descendant of King Álf.

The Hversu Novegr byggdist, in contrast, provides another lineage of the Elf King, the Old, of Álfheim, who would be fathered by Álfgeir, who would be fathered by Gandalfo, who would be fathered by Álfhild, who would be mothered by Ragnar Lodbrok (with Sigurdo the Ring).

Álfhild's father would be the same Gandalfo whose sons participated in the battle of Bravalla, where his performance is considered legendary. But this genealogy may be the result of problems in identifying Gandalf the Elder from the battle of Bråvalla with Gandalf the son of Álfgeir from the Ynglinga Saga, which is discussed later. If the two Gandalfs are the same person, the chronology presents several flaws of interpretation.

In all these written testimonies, the son of Hring and Álfhild was supposedly the famous Ragnar Lodbrok, husband of Aslauga (Áslaugr), who was the mother of Sigurdo Hart (Sigurðr Hjort), whose daughter Raguenilda (Ragnhildr) married Haldan the Black and with him gave birth to Harold the Fair-Haired, the first historical king of all Norway.

Alfheim in Popular Culture

English writer J. R. R. Tolkien transformed the Archaic Norse name, Alfheim, into English, Elvenhome. In his tales, Elvenhome is imagined as a coastal region of the Eternal Lands in the far west.

The Great King of the western elves was Ingwë, derived from the name Yngvi, often found as a synonym for Freyr, who inhabited Alfheim according to the Grímnismál.