Thomas Keightley – The Fairy Mythology – Elves and Celestial Music
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Thomas Keightley - The Fairy Mythology: Illustrative of the Romance and Superstition of Various Countries
The Elves are believed to have their kings, and to celebrate their weddings and banquets, just the same as the dwellers above ground. There is an interesting intermediate class of them in popular tradition called the Hill-people (_Högfolk_), who are believed to dwell in caves and small hills: when they show themselves they have a handsome human form.
The common people seem to connect with them a deep feeling of melancholy, as if bewailing a half-quenched hope of redemption.
There are only a few old persons now who can tell anything more about them than of the sweet singing that may occasionally on summer nights be heard out of their hills, when one stands still and listens, or, as it is expressed in the ballads, "lays his ear to the Elve-hill" (_lägger sitt öra till Elfvehögg_): but no one must be so cruel as, by the slightest word, to destroy their hopes of salvation, for then the spritely music will be turned into weeping and lamentation.
The Norwegians call the Elves Huldrafolk, and their music Huldraslaat: it is in the minor key, and of a dull and mournful sound. The mountaineers sometimes play it, and pretend they have learned it by listening to the underground people among the hills and rocks. There is also a tune called the Elf-king's tune, which several of the good fiddlers know right well, but never venture to play, for as soon as it begins both old and young, and even inanimate objects, are impelled to dance, and the player cannot stop unless he can play the air backwards, or that some one comes behind him and cuts the strings of his fiddle.