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Originally a supernatural dwarfish being of Germanic mythology, an elemental spirit of the land, sea and forest, possessed of magical powers which it used for the good or ill of mankind.
Later the name was used for a malignant imp, and then for fairy creatures that dance on the grass in the full moon, such as a mountain fay or, usually, as a small sprite.
Mischievous elves are thought to bring evil, especially bad dreams.
In recent times elves became popularized into larger creatures, near to the size of a human being, loving music and magic and are generally peaceful forest dwellers.
In the middle-1800s Scandinavian writers such as Thile, Toplius, Rydberg sketched the elves' true role in modern life: fairies that are somewhat mischievous, but the true friends and helpers of Father Christmas (Santa Claus). They are the Christmas elves.
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Sources: (1) Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Harper Collins Publishers; (2) Rose, Carol, Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, W. W. Norton & Company; (3) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (4) Beahm, George W., Fact, Fiction, and Folklore in Harry Potter's World: An Unofficial Guide, Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
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Suggested Books:-- A Field Guide to Irish Fairies.
-- A Witch's Guide to Fairy Folk: Reclaiming Our Working Relationship With Invisible Helpers (Llewellyn's New Age Series).
-- Among the Gnomes: An Occult Tale of Adventure in the Untersberg.
-- Cherokee Little People: The Secrets and Mysteries of the Yunwi Tsunsdi.
-- Dreaming of Cockaigne.
-- Elves, Gnomes and Other Little People, a Coloring Book.
-- Enchantment of the Faerie Realm: Communicate With Nature Spirits and Elementals.
-- Fairies: Real Encounters With Little People.
-- Fairies: The Cottingley Photographs (Theosophical Classics Series).
-- Fairies, Elves and Gnomes.
-- Fairy Spells: Seeing and Communicating With the Fairies.
-- Gnome Life: A Monthly Celebration of Secrets, Tales, and Whimsy.
-- Good Faeries, Bad Faeries: 2 Books in 1.
-- Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft.
-- Hans Christian Andersen; the Complete Fairy Tales and Stories.
-- In the Land of Cockaigne.
-- Irish Myths and Legends.
-- Irish Wonders: The Ghosts, Giants, Pookas, Demons, Leprechawns, Banshees, Fairies, Witches, Widows, and Other Marvels of the Emerald Isle.
-- Kender, Gully Dwarves, and Gnomes.
-- Land of Cockaigne.
-- Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings: Working With the Intelligence of Nature.
-- Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (A C.G. Jung Foundation Book).
-- Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia.
-- The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies (Flower Fairies Collection).
-- The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings.
-- The Elves of Lily Hill Farm: A Partnership With Nature.
-- The Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Fairies: With Assorted Pixies, Mermaids, Brownies, Witches, and Leprechauns.
-- The Haunts of Old Cockaigne.
-- The Interpretation of Fairy Tales.
-- The Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf.
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