Dutch Folklore Wikia
Fairies Looking Through an Open Window by John Anster Fitzgerald (1819 - 1906)
Fairies Looking Through an Open Window by John Anster Fitzgerald (1819 - 1906)
Also Known As Elven
Province Drenthe, Gelre, Zeeland
Natural Habitat Dunes, Fields, Hills, Forests, Mountains, Waters

The Alven or Elven (translation: Elves) are a community of nature spirits with roots in Nordic and Germanic Mythology. Possibly related to the Aesir and Vanir[1], they are prominent in Gelderland, Zeeland, Drenthe and Vlaanderen, known to prank us with their illusions. Alternative names were "Alfgedrochten." The word "Alf" is a collective noun for nature spirits, and might have been derived from the Latin word "albus", which meant "white." This would make sense, since Artists have often portrayed the Elves clothed in white garments. The Elf species are found in several heights. Some are tall, while others are tiny. They have been known to mate with humans, and would sometimes trade their own children for that of a human. In Flanders, Wanne Thekla is the name of their queen.[2]

The World of Elves[]

While they are spirits of nature, Elves don't live inside of houses like Gnomes do. In fact, it is questioned whether they live on our plane of existence at all. Rather, two different worlds are said to overlap each other; we could wander into their domain and not even know it. Still it is well-known that the Elves live in hills (also known as "Venusbergen", "Alvinnenheuvels", "Alvenheuvels" and "Elfenheuvelen").[3] We can't see the entrance, but their domain resides within. There's been speculation in the past that Elves were apparitions of the dead. Witte Wieven seem to suggest this.

Elf Magic[]

Elves are flirtatious and inviting creates that perform witchcraft. They don't mind if people join their circle to come sing and dance with them in the forest. Always attractive, some claim Elves are demons in disguise who lead honest people into temptation and misfortune. They are certainly said to drive people insane. Similar to witches, they used objects like sieves and eggshells as vehicles of transportation through air or water. Elves are known to make plants poisonous. Furthermore they play pranks, such as leading people astray, or jumping on their back like Tormentors do. Some people believe nightmares are the work of elves.[4]

Elf Territory[]

Several types of Elves were known in the Germanic regions:

  • Bergalven (translation: Mountain Elves) lived inside the mountains. Mostly in caves, which are not commonly found in the Netherlands
  • Duinalven (translation: Dune Elves) lived among the dunes at the coast.
  • Veldalven (translation: Field Elves) lived in flat areas.
  • Wateralven (translation: Water Elves) lived in the lakes, the sea, and other such waters.
  • Woudalven (translation: Wood Elves) lived in the forest.