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Fae Folk in Nordic Mythology

norse myths

Norse Tales of the Fae

There are three primary groups of fae folk in Nordic Mythology:  Elves, Dwarves, and Giants.  Elves are mentioned but don't seem to play a role in any of the mythos.  Dwarves and Giants are vital characters in most of the myths.  Dwarves are the master-smiths who create great magical treasures for the Gods and are obsessed with gold, beautiful women, and power.  Giants more or less represent the forces of chaos, continually trying to upset the order of the universe through one means or another.  For the most part the Gods and Giants are in conflict with one another, however, this is not true all of the time.  There are many tales of Gods and Giants who marry or become lovers.

Below are brief descriptions of the three primary categories of fae folk plus and additional section for miscellaneous entries.  These descriptions (& spellings) come directly from:

The Norse Myths.  Kevin Crossley-Holland. Pantheon Books, New York. ©1980

Elves

Alfheim (Elf World):  The part of Asgard inhabited by the light elves.

Svartalfheim:  Land of the dark elves. The dark elves are often interchangeable with dwarfs.

Dwarves

norse dwarves

Alvis (All Knowing):  Wise dwarf outwitted by Thor and turned into stone.

Andvari:  Dwarf who owned a treasure hoard, and cursed it when it was extracted from him by Loki to pay the ransom for Otter's death.

Brokk:  Dwarf who, with his brother Eitri, fashioned three such gifts for the gods that he won a wager with Loki.

Durin:  Second-in-command of the dwarfs.

Dvalin:  Dwarf who was turned to stone by the sun.  The dwarfs ironically called the sun 'Dvalin's delight'.

Eitri: Dwarf.  Brother of Brokk.  He was a master-smith who fashioned three great gifts for the gods.

Fjalar:  Dwarf.  Brother of Galar and, with him, murderer of the wise Kvasir from whose blood they make the mead of poetry.

Galar.  Dwarf.  Brother of Fjalar and, with him, murderer of the wise Kvasir from whose blood they make the mead of poetry.

Ivaldi:  Two dwarfs called the 'sons of Ivaldi' make three great treasures for the gods.

Giants

norse giants

Angrboda (Distress-bringer) Giantess who was the mistress of Loki and mother of Fenrir, Jormungand, and Hel.

Aurgelmir:  Alternative name for Ymir, the first frost giant.

Bergelmir:  Only giant to escape the flood caused by dead Ymir's blood.

Farbauti (Cruel Striker):  Giant who was Loki's father.

Fjolsvid:  Giant with some of Odin's characteristics.  Warder of the hall in Jotunheim in which Menglad lives.

Geirrod: Giant who tried to kill Thor (also the name of the king of the Goths)

Gerd (Field):  Frost giantess whose beauty ravished Freyr.  He finally married her.

Gilling:  Giant.  He and his wife are murdered by the dwarfs Fjalar and Galar.  They are avenged by their son Suttung.

Gjalp (Howler):  Daughter of the giant Geirrod who tried to drown Thor in a torrent of menstrual blood and, later, to crush him against roof rafters.

Greip (Grasper):  Daughter of the giant Geirrod and sister of Gjalp.

Grid: Giantess who was a mistress of Odin and assisted Thor by lending him her magic gloves, girdle and staff with which to defend himself against the giant Geirrod.

Gunnlod:  Daughter of the giant Suttung and guardian of the mead of poetry.  Odin seduced her and won the mead.

Gymir:  Frost Giant.  Father of the giantess Gerd who marries Freyr.

Hnitbjorg:  The giant Suttung's mountain stronghold where he hid the mead of poetry.

Hraesvelf (Corpse Eater):  Giant disguised as eagle who causes the wind.

Hrungnir:  Strongest of the giants.  He lost a horse race with Odin and was subsequently killed in a duel with Thor.

Hugi (Thought):  Young giant who outstripped Thor's human servant Thialfi in a running race and was, in fact, the embodiment of Utgard-Loki's thought.

Hymir Giant:  His massive cauldron required by the gods for the brewing of ale was wrested from him by Thor who subsequently killed him.

Hyndla (She-dog):  Giantess who discloses the lineage of Freyja's human lover Ottar.

Hyrrokin:  Giantess who drags Balder's burial boat, Ringhorn, down to the sea.

Jarnsaxa (Iron Cutlass)  Giantess who was mistress of Thor and mother of Magni.

Jotunheim:  Realm of the Giants.

Laufey:  Giantess.  Mother of Loki.

Logi (Flames):  Fire in the form of a giant who beat Loki in an eating match at the court of Utgard-Loki.

Mist Calf (Mokkurkalfi):  Giant made of clay, nine leagues tall.  An ineffectual companion for the giant Hrungnir in his duel against Thor.

Modsognir:  Commander of the dwarfs.

Muspell, Sons of:  Fire giants who will fight under the giant Surt at Ragnarok.

Narvi:  Giant.  Father of Night.

Skadi:  Daughter of the giant Thiazi.  At one time married to the Vanir Njord.  Associated with skiing and hunting.

Skrymir (Big Bloke):  Extra large giant (in fact Utgard-Loki in disquise) encountered by Thor and his companions on their journey to Utgard.

Surt (Black):  The giant who has guarded Muspell (the realm of fire) since before the creation.  He will set fire to the world at Ragnarok.

Suttung:  giant.  son of the giant Gilling.  For some time custodian of the mead of poetry.

Thiazi:  Giant.  He stole the goddess Idun and the golden apples in her keeping but Loki retrieved them and Thiazi was killed by the gods.

Thokk:  Giantess, probably Loki in disguise, who prevented Balder's return from Hel.

Thrym:  Giant, described as King of the frost giants.  He stole Thor's hammer and paid for it with his life.

Thrymheim (Place of DIn):  The giant Thiazi's stronghold in the mountains.  It passed to his daughter Skadi whose husband the god Njord refused to live there.

Utgard:  Stronghold within Jotunheim, ruled by the giant king Utgard-Loki.

Vafthrudnir (Mighty of Riddles):  Wise giant who was tricked by Odin in a test of knowledge and paid with his life.

Ymir:  The first giant, formed from fire and ice.  The world was shaped out of his body.

Miscellaneous

Valkyries (Choosers of the Slain):  Beautiful young women who choose men doomed to die in battle and brought them back to Valhalla.

Trolls:  Trolls are mentioned in only one tale in Crossley-Holland's book - 19: Thor's Duel with Hrungnir.  He gives them no mention in the glossary.  In tale 19, Thor is said to be off "fighting trolls and troll women and their wolfchildren in Iron Wood."  No further mention is made of them.

Dragon (Corpse Tearer):  Dragon that gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil in Niflheim and chews corpses.

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