Erter Vinter

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

In Alfheimr, home of the Light-Elves and one of the Nine Worlds of Old Norse mythology, the erter vinter (winter peas) dwell. These tiny elves sing and fly through the heavens on the dreams of dead animals. They smell like salt and when they sing make whistling and tinkling sounds like bells and chimes in the wind. They are happy beings and welcome spirits to heaven with a warmth that seems unfathomable for a Norwegian winter.

Here on earth, we live with the Dark-Elves, creatures dark as pitch and thick with evil. It is easy to become mired in their darkness, to believe the terrible things they whisper, and this is exactly what they want.

As is written in the eddic poem Gylfaginning:

That which is called Álfheim is one, where dwell the peoples called Light elves [Ljósálfar]; but the Dark-elves [dökkálfar] dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike in appearance, but by far more unlike in nature. The Light-elves are fairer to look upon than the sun, but the Dark-elves are blacker than pitch.

Yes, the erter vinter are tiny. And yes, they are silly and happy creatures that could easily somersault across the palm of your hand. But they battle the dökkálfar each and every day. They ride on clouds of otter dreams, singing songs to remind us of the simple strength of the snowflake and to remind us that our world is beautiful and that we are each loved. The dökkálfar are fierce and impressive, but the erter vinter are fiercer.

And they’re cute, too.

The next time you succumb to the insidious whispers of the dökkálfar, take a moment to listen for the chimes and bells that are the songs of the erter vinter. Take a deep breath of the salt in the air that means the erter vinter are near. Let their soft songs seep into your subconscious. It can be warm even in the coldest winter.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

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