History of the Ælfar – Part I (Prose)

Note: This is an excerpt from a larger project that I have been working on for many years concerning the mythical and legendary history of Britain.

Excerpt from

Antiqua
Historia Britanniae

(The Ancient History of Britannia)

by Emrys of Carmarthen (c 390 CE)

Edited by John W. Leys

They came from beyond the horizon, perhaps traveling on sunbeams across the heavens, and settled beyond the north wind. The Eldar, the elder races, who inhabited these lands long before the advent of mankind. Tall and slight of build their delicate features radiate an unexpected sense of power, intelligence, and beauty. Though they are said to have a lifespan several times that of a man, their lives are said to be significantly shorter than their forbearers, who were said to be practically immortal, barring accidents. Whether this is due to, as some claim, interbreeding with mankind, or merely a sign
of entropy’s ever-increasing hold on our world is ultimately unknown. Called the Ælfar, a name thought to be related to the Latin word album (white) due to their pale complexion and the glow they radiate, their ultimate origin is a mystery, even, it would seem, to themselves.

According to the ancient Annales of Ælfrheim, the Ælfar are descended from Alβiz1 and his seven siblings (Four brothers: βanðr Đerkaz, Æliz, Anþaraz2; Ȝetunaz and two sisters: Ȝorðuz, and Đanuz)3,
who were said to have been born of moonlight near the banks of the Rhun River, which appears to be the same river the Romans call
Rhenus and which our forbearers called Rēnos, some 4,003,0084
years before Romulus founded Rome:

Alβiz Alfar Föðr,

Born of moonbeams

Dancing on the fog of the forest

Near the river of Rhun,

Patriarch to seven brothers and sisters5

Awoken on the riverbank.

Married Ðanuz6, earth mother,

Daughter of sunlight,

Sister of the Rhun,

Refracted off the dew drops

Dripping from a rose petal.

Alternatively, the prophetic Recitation of Visions of Ðanuz, High Priestess of Jorð, whose
author some equate with the wife of Alβiz, claims that this is merely when the original Ælfar first arrived in the Rhun Valley and created their first settlement:

I recall when Alßiz’s kin

First arrives in moonlight

Along the banks of the Rhun,

Long before the sons of Alßiz

Founded the cities of the north,

Before Æliz took up his holy

If not misguided—

Mission in the east,

Before brother ßanðr fell to darkness

And Chaos.

Where they dwelt prior to this is open to speculation, though many on this fair island believe that they ultimately originated in the Otherworld, which we call Annwn and the Scots call Tír nAill (the other land) or Tír na nÓg (land of youth). It is equally unknown if they were literally siblings or merely saw
themselves as such figuratively. And if they were blood relations, none of the oldest chronicles say who their parents were. Some obscure chronicles of the Myriddunonians claim that they were the
children of Ænosh, though confusingly he seems to be equated with
Alβiz in some passages. Alternatively, the Saxons claim that Alβiz was the son of Annar and Nótt, though this seems predicated
on the notion that his sister
Ȝorðuz is identical with Jorð, the consort of Odin, whose parents are known to be Annar and Nótt.

For over a thousand years, under the leadership of Alβiz, the Ælfar were a nomadic people, not staying in any one location for an extended period of time, though they often returned to the Valley of the Rhun. The exception to this is βanðr, the smith and builder of the Ælfar, who built the first permanent Ælfar
settlement less than a decade after their arrival. Being a smith, βanðr needed raw materials to work with and began work on a mine in the Rhun Valley, which required him to stay in one area. Nearby he started a farm from which he and his family could harvest the food that they needed to live while he worked and mining and building. This farm quickly grew into a small community and later the first Ælfar city, which he named βurista after his son βuristiz, whom he fathered with his wife Awanuz. For seventeen hundred years βurista thrived and βanðr became renown as a master builder and smith. Sadly, the fates were not on his side.

1,737 years after the founding of βurista, βuristiz died in a mining accident. His father was devistated, closed the mine and abandoned the city, leaving for parts unknown. It is said in The Visions of Ðanuz that he “fell into darkness and Chaos,” though the exact meaning of this is unclear. He is ever after called Derkaz, Dökkr, the Dark One, it is said because his soul was blackened when his son died, though others claim that he had always held this title due to his complexion being dark and his hair bristly black, unlike his fair-skinned siblings. It is said that the Dökkálfar are descended from him.

Footnotes

1 Alβiz’s name is alternatively given as Alβiaz, Alβȝaz, Alfȝaz, or Ælfȝaz. Among the Seraphim he is called Alephon the White. In some obscure tales presevred in the literature of Moryddunin the first of the Ælfar is called Ænosh, who is said by some to the father of Alβiz.

2 It is unclear if this is actually his name as it literally means “the other one.”

3 This is merely the most commonly accepted listing of the seven Ælfar siblings. There are various lists of these siblings from various sources that contradict one another in details. Some lists totally leave out Ȝorðuz, and Đanuz and claim that the brothers’ spouses were actually their sisters. Some lists include Anþaraz’s wife Sangwuz βatuz as his sister, though she is known to have been his fourth wife who he didn’t marry until much later in his life, after his self-exile.

4 This date seems to have been derived from the calculations made by Sarron of Belgia in the 3rd Millenium BCE, which he made by starting at the founding of the city of Falias, which Ælfar tradition held to have been founded in 3,998,006 BCE, and counting backwards using clues mined from the text of the Annales of Ælfrheimr.

5 It is unclear from the poem itself if there were seven siblings including Alβiz or in addition to him. Indeed it is unclear if his spouse is counted as one of his siblings.

6 Some manuscripts give his wife’s name as Nerþuz.

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10 thoughts on “History of the Ælfar – Part I (Prose)

    • Thank you. I was hoping someone other than me would find it interesting or entertaining 😉

      It actually started many years ago as an attempt to retell the Arthurian Legends and–via my obsessiveness and a love affair with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain–it grew massively. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to write all that I have planned (as I’ve planned more than I’ve written!). I have a timeline that I put together to plan out everything and it has dates on it ranging from about 4 million BCE to the 6th Century CE. Without sounding full of myself, I consider it my Silmarillion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that is great! I love the Arthur legends as well. However, there are so many origins, it is hard to piece it all together… I have studied a bit of Geoffrey of Monmouth, but most of what I’ve read are the retellings by Sir Thomas Mallory. I could tell your history is very Welsh (which I love) due to the spellings, etc.

        Anyway, I’ll look forward to reading more! When I first started reading it did remind me a bit of Tolkien. Silmarillion indeed! 🙂
        Congrats on this.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, my original goal was to get as close to the original Celtic/Welsh legends as possible. Geoffrey is the oldest written full Arthurian narrative we have & he’s several centuries removed from the time period in question. It takes some recontruction and imagination to piece it all together.

          This piece is a comination of Celtic (Welsh and Irish) and Germanic/English/Nordic. The main narrative as a whole will grow more Celtic (Irish, Scottish, Briitish/Welsh) as it goes on, though I have a few more Nordic tales I want to tell that aren’t strictly speaking part of the main narrative.

          Thanks for reading and commenting!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Eric! It’s part of a project I’ve been working on for over 20 years, though I’ve done more planning and researching than writing until recently. Some of my recent mythological poems have actually been based on it, and I Incorporated a couple into this piece.

      Thanks again!

      Like

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