Our Friends the Dwarfs
The dwarfs of the Norse religion where not the lovable beings given to us by J.R.R. Tolkien, Walt Disney and the Hollywood types. They where dark, sometimes evil being that were well known for their blacksmith skills and gold smithing ability.
Dwarfs were beings that the gods Odin, Vili and Ve formed out of maggots feeding on the flesh of the dead frost giant Ymir. They gave them wits, intelligence and the shape of small humans. The dwarfs moved under the hills and mountains, and did not come out from beneath the land very often in fear that they will be turned into stone by the sun, as did happen to the dwarfs Alvis and Dvalin, the reason the dwarfs named the sun 'Dvalin's Delight'.
Their leader was called Modsognir and his deputy was called Durin. Four dwarfs had the duty of holding up the sky (Ymir's skull) over Midgard. Their names where Nordri (North), Sudri (South), Austri (East) and Westri (West).
The dwarfs were great metal workers, for whom even the gods went to for metal working. Dwarfs such as the sons of Invaldi, Brokk and Eitri where makers of Thor's great hammer Mjollnir and Odin's war spear Gungnir and arm ring Draupnir.
Several dwarfs where also in service to the gods when they made the magical silk ribbon called Gleipnir to bind the Wolf son of Loki, Fenrir. This they did with great success.
Although the dwarfs were not all evil, they where shifty, greedy, cunning and treacherous.
Dwarfs mentioned in the sagas where; Ai, Afl, Alfigg, Althjof, Alvis, Andvari, Aurvang, Austri, Bafur, Bari, Berling, Bifur, Bombor, Brokk, Dain, Delling, Dolgthvari, Dori, Draupnir, Duf, Durin, Dvalin, Eikinskjaldi, Eitri, Fal, Fid, Fili, Fjalar, Frag, Frar, Frosti, Fundin, Galar, Gandalf, Ginnar, Gloin, Grerr, Har, Haur, Heptifili, Hledjolf, Hornbori, Hugstari, Ingi, Iri, Ivaldi and his two sons, Jari, Kili, Lit, Loni, Mjodvitnir, Modsognir, Nain, Nar, Nidi, Niping, Nordri, Nori, Nyi, Nyr, Nyrad, Oinn, Ori, Radsvid, Rekk, Skavid, Skirfir, Sudri, Sviar, Sviur, Thekk, Thorin, Thrain, Thror, Uni, Vali, Var, Vegdrasil, Vestri, Vig, Vindalf, Virfir, Vit and Westri.
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This artical appeared in two parts in Valhalla's Svar March and October 1995 issues
© 2004 Eric Anderson