Elves (Ah Kin) live in Shamballa, the City of Eternal Bliss, also called `Foresthome', which lies deep within the forest and exists simultaneously on many planes. Within Shamballa all needs are met, all dreams are realized, and no wish is ungranted. Things seem dreamlike and intimately real at once, Adventurous elves visit the world outside Shamballa, inhabited by all types of plants and animals (called, sadly, `The Dying Realms'). When they do so they are often on spiritual journeys or exploratory missions. Otherwise it is only the `half-elf' that braves such a challenge.
All elves are a family. All time for elves is long (and, arguably, short). They all greet one another with great big hugs. If the two have met before, then they sing songs of their travels since last meeting. Humans who hear an elf sing are enchanted by their voices and while within hearing distance cannot move, such is the ecstasy in which they are wrapt. Plants harmonize with all being and their song is the song of the universe.
Elves don't sleep. They meditate in trance for a few moments and then enter the world of dreams fully awake. Those elves who spend time with humans may be able to join in the human dreams and control them, to a certain extent, somewhat like the computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation controls the `holodeck'.
Humans who spend time with elves and encounter such dream-work will gradually transform into elves over time. Given shared dreams, they begin showing elven characteristics and attitudes. From this observation, it has been suggested by elven sages that humans are elven `eggs', which can be fertilized through dreams by an elf who wishes to see this `hatchling' through to `becoming', or full realization.
As some elves see it, then, humans are like children, some playing Mother Nature's game, and some not. Regardless, since elves live so long, it seems likely that all humans may eventually become elves.
Elves rarely eat outside Shamballa, living quite healthily on water and sunshine. Human food makes them queasy and human liquor is of unfortunately poor quality. Elven mead and wine are very strong and tasty.
Elves love trees because they are directly related to them. Elves are evolved plants, coming from the same `branch' of the geneological family. They understand that trees are intelligent, nonmobile sages of great wisdom, spending the entirety of their lives in meditation. Elven sages are said to become trees upon their final rebirth.
Elves don't die like humans do. They mature and then, after many journeys about the Great Star, (this process is not completely understood), they wither and are reborn in Shamballa with continued memory and a similar, though renewed body. This is the evolved state of the vegetative cycle of renewal (rebirth). It is said that rebirth requires a conscious choice, however, so that elves who venture into the Dying Realms and begin to doubt their ability to be reborn may be reborn as trees instead. Often rites of death and rebirth are performed in winter and spring, respectively, at Shamballa.
The entirety of the elven life, the Way, is one of fun, love and laughter. They delight in games and their childlike nature combines with their often advanced intellect to create some of the most sophisticated and challenging games of skill and chance, involving magical powers, spells, quests and mysteries. Some of those less fortunate young elves get lost in the Dying Realms and begin to take the games for reality, becoming dour and moody. A brief time in the company of other elves usually cures them of this, however.
Their `religion', if you will, is based on such games. Elves aren't required to believe anything, but are told a marvelous story which encompasses and enriches their lives.
This is the story which most elves are told upon their lingual maturity. It is understood, at the time, that it can help the individual understand hir place in the cosmos and give hir a basis for interaction with the World, but that there are other, equally valuable stories that will do the same.
``Ah and Kin were the first great trees. They stood atop the world and fruited Sun, Moon, Seas, Stars and the various plants and animals. In this way all things grew and ripened, falling off the branch of statelessness onto the ground of being. Once there, they crawled or moved to different parts of the world, where they were born from the seed, pod, egg or womb of their parents. Enjoying the movement of their offspring, Ah and Kin died and became the first elves - what humans might call `gods' and the elves call `The Elders', `The Ancient Onces', `The Celestial Masters', `The Old Ones', or countless thousands of other names of endearment. Gradually Ah and Kin, now unified in the elven race, are waking to their true essence and will grow to their old strength in a never-ending cycle.''
To the elves the Old Ones are less wholly other beings and more divine patterns of behavior. In `worshipping' them elves engage in activities with which the Old One is associated. This does not make the worshipper of greater value than the non-worshipper. Worship is not considered a show for others but an ecstatic experience. While the practice is considered serious business (if anything is for elves!), once one becomes acquainted with the stories, legends about the Elders, one begins to realized the value not only of acting but of watching, of listening to the new stories which they tell through their new worshippers. No harm is ever done in elven worship, and those who do so accidentally are advised to return to Shamballa immediately to renew their sacred vows. Little if anything is known about these vows, but often they are said to be ideal goals rather than adopted commandments. The Old Ones are innumerable in their variation. They have as many faces and names as there are days in life (and for an elf, this is a lot!). The Old Ones this adventurer knows of thus far are these:
Varda, Star Mother (aka `Queen of the Stars'): Creatrix, Genetrix, Womb of life. She is associated with planting and/or defending trees.
Leollyn, Dancing Father: Magick energy of being, the dancing Song of All. He is associated with magick, singing and dancing.
Yow, the Teacher (aka `Uncle Yow'): The Trickster, the Fool. He is associated with deception and the revealing of wisdom, trickery and education.
Cleowyn, Wizardress: Wise One, compassionate Lover. She is associated with magick and romance.
Tufyl, Leader of the Festive Spirits: Partier, mirthmaker, intoxicator. Associated with merrymaking, drinking, smoking. The Festive Spirits include all those substances which trigger altered states of consciousness and levity.
Snassis, Snake Beauty: Regenerator, renewer, rebirther. Associated with awe, `death' and knowledge (books), it is said that Snassis will be the final guide beyond the veil(?). Her sisters, Almuldhea and Cleowyin are alternatively said to accompany her in this function.
Vitraya, Healer: Healer, vitalizer and restorer of life. She is associated with healing, aiding and service generally.
Farrelon, The Game Hunter: Dedicated challenger and adventurer. He is associated with hunting and game playing.
Kellon, the Silent (aka `Eternal Questor'): The keen eye, the sensitive ear. She is associated with searching, tracking and quests. She, paired with Almuldhea (below) are said to be neither male nor female, but both and neither. Both are rather seldom spoken of, actually, for it is thought that to do so is to bring them shame.
Amuldhea, Mysterious Mystery, Darkness in its extreme: She is Death in the sense of eternal extinction. This is not a concept which elves understand well, and many find Hir difficult if not impossible to speak about. She is associated with sex, secrecy and hiding.
These are brief descriptions only. Each has countless tales told about them around deadwood fires and in mead-slick taverns late at night.
If you know of more or of some of the tales, please post them for the benefit of the elves in the audience. Thank you.
My understanding is that he different `types' of elves correspond largely to the habitat that the elves developed within. This is sort of the 'flavor', if you will, of them. Much like humans, there is very little difference really between most elves. Sure, some skin colors are different, some have developed different physical characteristics to confront the immediate needs of their environments (gills for sea elves, for example), but all in all an elf is an elf.
This is not a popular theory among young elves, mind you. Sources which take the attitude of elven youth will tell you that there is a superiority among elves - that those born on the surface are somehow `better' than those born, for example, below the surface in caves.
This is patently untrue. I was born beneath the surface and raised in the Great Forest. I was fortunate enough to see both cultures personally. They are almost identical in nature, if not often in form.
Dark Elves: Dark Elves are generally thought to be the ones who live under surface of the earth. They have excellent night vision and have some difficulty with the sun. Sometimes these elves are called `Drow', though I don't know where this word originates.
Dark Elves are generally more counter-cultural, less respectful of humans, more often picked on by other elves (especially the immature ones), and tend (because of this picking) to have `a chip on their shoulder'.
Silver Elves: Silver Elves may be the same as Moon Elves, but I can't be sure. Moon and Silver often go together. Even if they are, I don't know much about them. I guess that Silver/Moon Elves live on the Moon. I've heard rumors to this effect from one lady elf who claims to be of their line. They probably have some magical means of coming to earth, but I'm not sure what that might be.
Shadow Elves: Shadow Elves I've never even heard of. I wonder if these elves are what are sometimes referred to as the `shadows' of the elven dead. Elves don't really die, but they are sometimes dormant and there is much speculation about exactly `where' elves are between dissolution and rebirth.
Courtly Elves: Courtly Elves seem a more social distinguishment as compared to `feral', which would be `wild' as opposed to `civilized'. I don't know an elf who fits neatly into either category, I'm afraid.
Feral Elves: Feral Elves sound like fun. I wonder if they're dangerous. Elves that grew up away from ForestHome, perhaps lost or kidnapped and left to grow in the wild? I can only guess.
Sea Elves: Sea Elves are fairly common where I'm from. They live underwater, usually ocean or seawaters. They can breathe air, however, so I suspect that the gills are a later development. They PREFER the water. I've noticed that these elves tend to be less friendly in general toward other elves and humans, and that they seem to have rather elitist attitudes, but this is true of many elves from a variety of environs. Perhaps these elves are more emotional than others, but I can't be sure.
Paths and Possibilities