Two Norse deities can be connected to the álfar, or elves, of Norse myth. One is Freyr, who had Alfheim as a tooth-gift, and was ruler of the álfar. The other is the sun-goddess, whose connection with the álfar runs much deeper than her by-name Álfroðull, or Elfin Beam.
Sheep and goats were both common food animals during the Iron Age, although oddly enough there are no images of sheep from the pre-Christian period. There aren’t a lot of goats, either, but there are a few among the rock carvings on the west coast of Sweden and the east central part. The same holds true for the myths: few goats, but no sheep.
Geography made the Scandinavians a marine people, and not surprisingly ships of various kinds played an important part in their lives. It’s not surprising that they turn up in myth and art as well.
Ships played an important part in Scandinavian life, so it’s not surprising that they are also prominent in mythology and art. In these next two posts I will be discussing the cult of the Vanir and the role that ships play their myths, and then how those myths and associations also link up to death and the afterworld. The ship, like the Vanir, were associated both with wealth and prosperity, and also death and what lay after. Once again this a rather long piece, so I have split it into two posts:
Image at top: Solberg – Rock Art in Norway. Photo by greywether.