Alfheim (Old Norse: Ālfheimr, "elf home") is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Light Elves in Norse mythology and appears also in Scottish ballads under the form Elfhame (Elphame, Elfame) as a fairyland, sometimes modernized as Elfland (Elfinland, Elvenland).
In Old Norse texts
Álfheim as an abode of the Elves is mentioned only twice in Old Norse texts.
The eddic poem Grímnismál describes twelve divine dwellings beginning in stanza 5 with:
Ýdalir call they the place where Ull
A hall for himself hath set;
And Álfheim the gods to Frey once gave
As a tooth-gift in ancient times.
A tooth-gift was a gift given to an infant on the cutting of the first tooth.
In the 12th century eddic prose Gylfaginning Snorri Sturluson relates it as the first of a series of abodes in heaven:
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.
The account later, in speaking of a hall called Gimlé and the southernmost end of heaven that shall survive when heaven and earth have died, explains:
It is said that another heaven is to the southward and upward of this one, and it is called Andlang [Andlangr 'Endlong'] but the third heaven is yet above that, and it is called Vídbláin [Vídbláinn 'Wide-blue'] and in that heaven we think this abode is. But we believe that none but Light-Elves inhabit these mansions now.
It is not indicated whether these heavens are identical to Álfheim or distinct. Some texts read Vindbláin (Vindbláinn 'Wind-blue') instead of Vídbláin.
Modern commentators speculate (or sometimes state as fact) that Álfheim was one of the nine worlds (heima) mentioned in stanza 2 of the eddic poem Völuspá.
In English and Scots texts
In several Scots and in Northern Middle English folkoric ballads, Álfheim was known in as Elphame or Elfhame. In later English publications it has been called Alfheim, Elfland or 'Elfenland. The fairy queen is often called the "Queen of Elphame" in ballads such as that of Thomas the Rhymer:
'I'm not the Queen of Heaven, Thomas,
That name does not belong to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elphame
Come out to hunt in my follie.'
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