At the beginning of time, God paid a visit to the first of his creations, Adam and Eve. They received him with great joy and showed him all of their possessions, including their beautiful children. God saw that their children were lovely and full of promise.
“Are there other children I have yet to meet?” God asked Eve.
“No,” Eve replied.
Eve lied to God because she had not finished bathing her other children and she was ashamed to have the Almighty see them, so she hid them. Of course, God knew she was hiding the children and rebuked her. “What you hide from my sight, I will hide from yours,” He said.
The unwashed children of Adam and Eve became invisible and lived among the hills, moors, and woods. They became known as elves. Humans are the descendants of the children Eve proudly showed to God. Only when an elf desires to be seen can a person see him thus, they are called the huldufólk, or “hidden people.”
Another story tells of a traveller who lost his way. He wandered for some time until he came to a Hut in the woods. He knocked on the door and an old woman opened it. She invited him in, and he gladly accepted.
Once inside, the traveller noticed that the house was very clean and tidy. The old woman led him to the warmest room and introduced him to her two young and beautiful daughters. The girls received the traveller with kindness, served him a good supper, and offered him a soft bed.
Later that evening, the traveller requested that one of the girls lie with him and keep him company throughout the night. His request was granted, but when he tried to kiss the girl, the hand he placed on her sank through as if she was made from mist. The man was surprised that he could see her lying beside him, but he could not touch her. “What does this mean?” he asked.
“I am a spirit,” the girl replied. “When the devil made war in the heavens, he, along with his army was cast out into darkness. Those who turned their eyes to watch his fall were likewise driven out of heaven. But those who were neither for nor against him were sent to earth and commanded to live in the rocks and mountains. We are called the Hidden People or elves.
Elves can live in the company of none but their own. We do either good or evil - and whichever one we choose, we do it well. Elves have no mortal bodies but can take on human form whenever we wish men to see us. I am one of these spirits, so there is no hope of you ever embracing me.”
The traveller accepted his fate and lived to tell the rest of us his story.
Based on Jón Árnason I, 7