elves: Indic counterpart?

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Wed Feb 9 18:22:50 EST 2005

Hutton didn't give me a definition of "religion," but I guess in his
opinion it applied  to the really big issues, and he didn't think the
tutelary spirits were involved in them in the way in which Thor and Odin
and Freya were.

The question of whether the native informants and the Irish literary
tradition regard them as shrunken deities or earlier inhabitants is not
quite the same thing as whether they really are such in their origin.
Hutton's point was that he thought they always had been small (in
importance, not dimensions).

There is also of course the belief that the leprechauns etc. were
angels who refused to take part in the war between Michael and Satan,
and were banished to the earth and diminished, to go to Hell at the Last
Judgment.  This is discussed in the chapter, "the Longaevi" in C.S.
Lewis's The Discarded Image.

A few years ago I began to investigate whether there was any belief
that the leprechauns or similar sprites from other European countries
had emigrated along with the humans.  I got bogged down and didn't
pursue it but it appears in some cases they may, and also that such
legends have fused with Native American beliefs in tutelary spirits of
small dimensions.  There was even a NA tribe on the US-Canada border
where the spirits were zealous Catholics and drove people insane who
used the tribal lodge for dancing during Lent. (Happy Ash Wednesday if


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
athr at loc.gov
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library
of Congress.

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