Someone asked this question in the Faery Adventure Facebook group, and can I just say how much I love the question? This is the kind of conversation I love to have about the faery realm. And I had never considered it before. Here are my thoughts, below, and I'd love to hear what you think...
What is a Soul?
I thought we'd start there and see if we're all on the same page about what it means to have or be a soul. And then, we'll move forward with the elf question.
the spiritual or immaterial part of a person or animal, regarded as immortal.
In the quote above, the dictionary gives souls to humans and animals, and says that the soul is immortal. Can we reason that anything immortal would have a soul? I'm not sure we can.
And the dictionary doesn't mention beings that are neither human nor animal. So the dictionary doesn't really have an opinion on elves.
The idea that something has a soul suggests that it is a part of the something that exists without the physical being. So if an elf did have a soul, it would be a being that contains elven physicality + a soul. But where would the soul go, if anywhere? Do elves live forever - are they eternal? If so, that might mean that the soul never leaves because elves never die.
Those who believe that humans and animals can have multiple lifetimes seem to also believe that the soul moves on when they do and goes with them into each new lifetime.
If elves are not eternal and they don't have souls, then they would cease to exist whenever their lifetimes ended. If they are eternal, then how did they come to have a soul? Perhaps, they are simply essence embodied with no separation?
What If Everything Has a Soul?
Soul is not just an abstract theological idea but something concrete as well. But, the concrete object cannot be detached, traded, divided, or transplanted. It cannot be passed on to someone else. Yet it is like a living thing, which can grow or evolve, and also mutate into something different. - Quora.com
Do all beings have souls? What do you believe?
If all do, then that would include not just humans and animals, but plant life and possibly, divine beings, too - elves included.
This seems especially likely when soul does not have to bear the weight of separate piece of the self, or part that reincarnates. What if that is a limited way of looking at the concept of having a soul? What if it is broad enough to include beings who do not incarnate but simply exist? Are there other ways to envision soul?
Sentience – the capacity of an organism to feel – is fundamental to being alive. If human beings have souls, they must be more about sentience than consciousness. We are motivated far more by passion than by intellect – what we feel deeply is what drives us, for good and ill. -aeon.co
If sentience is part of what indicates that a being has a soul, then maybe all sentient beings have souls. To be honest, I believe that ultimately, these are theological questions and a matter of faith. Because there isn't much proof.
But deciding what you believe is worth it, whether you can prove it or not. So let's continue...
Who are the Elves?
Different cultures have different interpretations of the term elf. In England, they are commonly perceived as cheeky, young boy faeries. In northern Europe, they are more similar to leprechauns, ...helpful & friendly to humans....In Norse legend, they are tall, human-like supernatural beings...elsewhere they have been diminished in size and power, such as Santa's hard-working little helpers. - Lucy Cavendish, The Book of Faery Magic
Who do you believe the elves are? It is said that they are shapeshifters, and that is what I believe accounts for different perceptions of who they are, what they look like and what they do.
I also tend to believe that scary stories about them, similarly to ones about children-stealing faeries, have been made up by scribes wanting to diminish the faery faith in the hope that more people would turn to Christianity.
But despite differences in opinion on what they look like, etc., many people who believe in elves, consider them to be among the eternal divine. Do you agree?
And if that's true, do they have souls?
Because Google & I are very close friends, I did a search on that question, and found the opinion that they do not. And that once they are no longer with you, you have to wish in order to bring them back?
Say what, now? But that seems to be connected to Dungeons & Dragons? Do let me know if it is also a religious or spiritual belief.
I also found out that not everyone believes that elves are immortal, but instead, some believe they are merely long-lived. I wonder if that is because some people believe they were elves in past lives or have elven ancestry?
I have always tended to believe that any spirit being could choose to incarnate, and then, of course, they would be mortal-ish, but that that would not be descriptive of who they are when they are not incarnating. To be honest, that is what I believe about all of us.
What about you? What do you believe?
Elves and fairies have supernatural powers, allowing them to move through space and change their shape into any form they choose and while in the fairy realm, elves and fairies are immortal. -witcheslore.com
I agree with that quote.
But do they have souls? I definitely believe they are sentient beings, and that they are spirit beings who can take on whatever physicality they want. And who they are stays the same no matter which "body" they are in, and that essence is what makes them who they are throughout time.
Is that non-physical essence a soul? I think we could call it that. keeping in mind that we are humans using human words to describe what is true about an Otherworld we can't know completely.
What do you believe? Do elves have souls?
See you next time!