Welcome to the Forums!  Please post an introduction after signing up!

For an updated map of Ren Fests check out The Ren List at!

The Chat server is now running again, just select chat on the menu!

Main Menu

Good Reading on Elf Lore & Mythology

Started by Edward de Johns, July 08, 2008, 10:45:40 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Edward de Johns

Elf Folklore and Mythology

All books can be found on


Popular Religion in Late Saxon England:  Elf Charms in Context

    by Karen Louise Jolly

From the back cover:  "In tenth- and eleventh-century England, Anglo-Saxon Christians retained an old folk belief in elves as extremely dangerous creatures capable of harming unwary humans.  To ward off the afflictions caused by these invisible beings, priests modified traditional elf charms by adding liturgical chants to herbal remedies."  This book provides a window into this distant age, when people gave equal credulity to elves and demons, magic and miracles, herbs and holy water. This persuasive study of religion and culture, in which Germanic Paganism and folklore commingles with Saxon Christianity, offers a fascinating early-medieval worldview. The extensive bibliography alone is worth the price of the book.  Very highly recommended to the serious reader.

An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures
by Katherine Mary Briggs.

This book is out of print, but it's worth the search!  One of my favorite source books, with solidly researched, well-written, clearly organized  folklore on elves and all manner of fey folk.

The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries

    by Pierre Dubois, Illustrated by Claudine & Roland Sabatier

An attractive "coffee table book" with evocative illustrations and interesting bits of lore about faeries from many lands and cultures. At 184 pages, "great encyclopedia" seems a bit lofty a claim, but it's definitely worth a look.  One big caveat:  I'm not crazy about the depiction of the Italian streghe.

Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins:  An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose

      Yes, it does have elves, too. Good source book.

A Field Guide to Irish Fairies by Bob Curran, Illustrated by Andrew Whitson

The Irish fairies have much in common with fantasy elves, and Irish fairy lore is extensive and fascinating.  This attractive book is a good place to start.

Victorian Fairy Tales:  The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves:   Edited by Jack David Zipes

Victorian England was obsessed with fairy lore.  Belief in fairies was widespread, and stories of actual contact with the fey folk were quite common.  Whatever your degree of credulity might be, this collection is an interesting introduction to Victorian fairy tales. 

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz

Another hard-to-find book, first published in 1911.  It's an unusual hybrid:  although the author was a distinguished scholar, he treated his subject and sources with respect. The result is a fascinating blend of faith and folklore.  On the down side, it reads like an anthropology text.  I found the unintentionally ironic contrast between the tone and the subject matter rather appealing, and frankly, I like this book a lot better than any among the recent spate of "fairy faith" books.

Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas by H.A. Guerber

This is a companion book to the classic Norse myths.  It does not retell the myths, but rather tells about them in short, easy-to-read sections.  References to elves are sprinkled throughout the book.  Good intro to elves as envisioned in Norse mythology.

Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions  by H.R. Ellis Davidson

A distinguished anthropologist examines similarities among the Celtic, Germanic, and Scandinavian beliefs.  Since fantasy elves owe a nearly equal debt to the Celtic and Nordic myths, this book's examination of common roots offers interesting insight into elf-lore.  Davidson's scholarship is impressive, and this book is meaty enough to satisfy the most serious reader, yet the prose is always clear and readable.  If you've read a lot of anthropology, you'll know what a rare treat this combination can be.  Very highly recommended.

Spirit of the New England Tribes, Indian History and Folklore, 1692-1984  by William S. Simmons

If you're like most people, when you envision elves, it's usually in the context or Celtic or Nordic mythology.  But many cultures are rich in elf-lore, including those of the Native Americans.  In this book, the elf-lore is contained to a single chapter:  "Little People."   

Ways of the Strega by Raven Grimassi

This book is not for everyone.  It's definitely "New Age," (I hate that term, but since it gets the basic idea across, we'll live with it for now...) since it purports to reveal secrets of stregheria, a hereditary tradition of Italian witchcraft.  I'm  including  it here for the serious student of elf lore, in that it offers a hard-to-find glimpse of elves in southern Mediterranean mythology.


I wish I had seen this thread earlier. I sell several of these books at my bookstore @ TRF. I just packed them away but I believe I still have copies of the Carol Rose & Evans-Wentz books you mentioned.


Here is an interesting article:

While the Tuatha De Danann are not actually called "elves," they are remarkable similar in many ways to the beings that are called "elves" in other mythology.  While the article is mainly talking about Tolkien's elves (and is interesting on it's own in that regard :), it discusses one of the mythological sources he used to create them (the Tuatha de Danann).

I have books from college that have many of the old myths about elves, and I will post more when I manage to dig them out of whatever box they got stuck in.  :)
My (infrequently updated) costume blog:


I would love that info!! I love to read anything dealing with the Tuatha de Danann
Royal Protector of Raccoons, Mistress of the Poi, Best Friend of Windland/Nim, Guppy, Seamstress for The Feisty Lady.

Amras Elfwine

Thanks, Elennare...I look forward to the study of any literature you have.

...and, I can quite empathize with you on the "stuff in boxes" issue...I have many boxes, some full of, well, more boxes... 8)
R/F member since 2004
"They say that men who go warring afield look ever to the next hope of food and of drink." ~Tolkien

"Who are you callin' plushy??" ~ Todd the Squirrel