Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Alfar at the Doomstead

Havamal 159 : ef ek skal fyrða liði telja tíva fyrir, ása ok alfa ek kann allra skil... "If I must reckon up the men of a folk before the gods, both Aesir and Alfar, I can discern and explain them all..."

Why are the Alfar there? The Alfar, as we know from traditional European folklore, ward the wild places of the world, and the fertility and integrity of the land.

No one has yet mentioned the fact the Alfar are there in that court. What will they speak? What will they testify of your life, from their position as guardians of the hills and plains?

Do the Alfar tally up the sins of the folk against the land and wild wights? Is it here the rights of animals and of the environment will have their strong say? Will they speak the kindness you showed to smaller beings and trees so rooted they could not run?

The verse is so terse, but the statement so strong. How do people behave when they know on their judgement day the fair-folk shall give honest testimony? How do you act in the world when you know that not only do the elves affect your luck in this world, but in the next as well?

What is said there shall become part of your fair fame etched into the tree's bark, shaping how your name shall be said, for the doom of your deeds cannot be undone. The deeds stick to the name as if the name catalogued the deeds themselves. How shall you like that name to be spoken?

Now the Alfar are not the only judges, but that they are there, Havamal 159 avers.

It does not matter whether you take the symbolic image handed down by our poets literally or not. What matters is your understanding that the way you treat the world becomes part of your legacy. And whether anyone remembers or not, that legacy is remembered by the world itself, and lives on in effects which shape how things shall come. Knowing that, live as if you walked through eternity, for as Blake said, eternity is in love with the productions of time.

translation copyright 2009 by Siegfried Goodfellow


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