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.
(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
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.
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.