Elfkin is a subcategory of otherkin wherein an individual identifies as or with elves. Identifying as a an elf can include, but is not limited to, spiritually believing one has the soul of an elf, was an elf in a past life, or is otherwise more elf than human. Elfkin may feel "phantom" or "astral" ear-tips and/or other body parts, though this depends on the subtype.
Tips for Elfkin
Elfkin may find comfort in activities or behavior that elves take part in, such as spending time in nature or under the stars. Again, this may vary by subtype and local culture. Some elves live on a strict plant-only diet, while some are hunter-gatherers. Some elves value plant life above all, others the moon or sun, and yet others prefer complex magical gadgets of their own making.
Types of Elfkin
There are several types of elves, and some of these types can overlap. This list is not an exhaustive one, and more subtypes will be added as more users contribute their experiences.
These subtypes are a part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythos, including The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc. Not an exhaustive list yet.
This type of elf has its origin in the Tolkien Legendarium universe. Meaning "People of the stars" or "Star people", the name Eldar was given to the elves who did not flee when discovered by a Vala for the first time after their awakening. All Eldar are "Quendi", or people who speak the root language Quenya or one of its descendant languages , but not all Quendi are Eldar.
In general, Quendi or Eldar are unique among fantasy elves because they were explicitly created as Firstborn Children of a Panentheistic creator-god that they called Eru Iluvatar. The Quendi were designed to awaken, fully grown and whole in body, in a specific location somewhere in Middle Earth. The Valar, popularly thought of as demigods or archangels or servant-gods to Eru, knew this event would come and attempted to prepare a haven for this First Children in the west where they would be safe from the Marrer, Melkor, a rogue Vala who sought to destroy everything Eru created. This specific situation is the origin of differentiation into different peoples, which are described in each entry below this one.
Physically, Quendi or Eldar are tall, innately graceful, and fond of song and language and all arts. They are described as having 'leaf shaped ears.' The later groups of Quendi have general genetic trends in hair and eye color based on their ancestors, with rare mixing between groups. Most famous characters, like Arwen Undomiel, her father Eldrond Peredhel, and even Aragorn the man, feature blending of ancestry and even a bit of angel blood.
Quendi or Eldar are composed of two intermingled parts: The Fea or spirit, and the Hroa or body. Eldar are functionally immortal, and only die to violence which breaks the Hroa or to despair and terror that break the Fea. When Eldar die, the Fea travels uninhibited by the material world to the Halls of Mandos, where they spend time as a spirit learning from their life and resting. An Elda who has healed from their previous life and cause of death may choose to reincarnate, as Glorfindel of Gondolin chose to do.
Avari, which mean "the unwilling," are the Quendi who fled into the wilderness at the sight of the Vala Orome or otherwise refused to go West, and therefore did not remain with the Eldar. There is very little information in the Legendarium after this one scene, so there is very little information available about the Avari.
The first group to form among the Quendi who awoke, named "first" after their first forefather and foremother Imin and Iminye. The Minyar who chose to follow the Vala into the West were renamed "Vanyar" which means "Bright or Fair people." After living in Valinor for a time, they are also called the Spear Elves. After arriving in Valinor, the Vanyar only left once--at the command of the Valar to go to Middle Earth and fight against the supreme evil. After assisting in that battle, the living Vanyar returned to Valinor and the dead Vanyar awoke in the Halls of Mandos.
Vanyar have a few defining features described in a few places in the Legendarium--their hair is usually blonde, they prefer white banners, and they are skilled in the making and use of spears. Vanyar are the most naturally great poets of all the Eldar. Vanyar love light above all things, and their unanimous choice as a people to follow Orome to Valinor was the beginning of a long tradition of reverence for Valinor and the Valar. When comparing the Vanyar to other elves, one can think of them as the elves most devoted to the holy creations of Eru via the original creating-song of the Valar. They love Valinor and the Valar more than any art or skill or knowledge.
The second group to form among the Quendi who awoke, named "second" after their first foremother and forefather, Tatye and Tata. The Tatyar who chose to follow the Vala into the west were renamed "Noldor" which means "Ones with knowledge." The Noldor arrived in Valinor after the Vanyar, and many of them apprenticed themselves to Aule, the Vala of earth, minerals, crystals, metals, and artifice with these materials. The Noldor love fine crafts of all kinds--weaponry, instruments, clothing and arms, decoration, and fine furniture are all examples.
After living in Valinor a time, the supreme evil seeded doubt about the Valar into the crown prince of the Noldor, Feanor. After a cataclysmic event in Valinor where the supreme evil threw the whole world into darkness and personally killed Feanor's father, The seed of doubt sprouted. Feanor gave an impassioned speech against the gilded cage of Valinor and the misled coddling of the Valar; a section of Noldor agreed with him and immediately exiled themselves with him; a second group led by his younger brother reluctantly agreed and followed after a delay; and the rest of the Noldor remained in Valinor under the guidance of another of the High Princes.
Feanor and the group he personally led killed many Teleri as they left Valinor in an attempt to steal boats, inventing murder and marring the Noldor in the eyes of all Eldar who knew of the event. Exiled Noldor were forbidden from returning to Valinor until long after. Not all Noldor were involved in this, and the delayed group did not know of this event until their arrival in Middle Earth.
Noldor have a few defining features: that they love crafts and artifice and lore, that they tend to have dark hair and very rarely red hair, that their minds are always working on new desires and improvements on old ones. An example of this which does not specifically involve creating beautiful items is that Galadriel willingly exiled herself even though she did not explicitly agree with Feanor's blame of the Valar--Galadriel left Valinor because she desired to explore and rule her own realm in Middle Earth, which she did in determined Noldor fashion.
The third group to form among the Quendi who awoke, named "third" after their first forefather and foremother, Enel and Enelye. The Nelyar were the largest population of Quendi, and they branched into the majority of subtypes of Elves. The name Teleri means "those who come last" and was given because the Nelyar stopped partway on the journey west--some of them to settle, and some of them to wait for their kind Elwe who had gone missing. Elwe's brother King Olwe paused for a time before continuing West to catch up with the Minyar and Tatyar.
The Nelyar who stopped and waited for Elwe to return, or who decided to stop and make lives for themselves somewhere in Middle Earth rather than go to Valinor, can generally be divided into the Sindar and Nandor (With later descendants Silvan and Laiaquendi).
The Nelyar who followed Olwe became the Falmari, which means "wave folk." In the time spent waiting for Elwe to be found, Olwe's people had come to love the sea and decided to remain on an island halfway between Valinor and Middle Earth, from which they spread to both coasts in early eras.
Teleri have few universally defining features because they are so spread out as a people. To help, one can view some Teleri as "higher" and some as "lower." The Falmari, who made it to Valinor, can be considered the Highest Teleri. The Sindar, or "Gray People" can be considered the second highest, because even though the whole host did not make it to Valinor, their kind Elwe had been once before the migration and still radiated the light of Valinor. His children and children's children inherited this light, making them Higher than the elves who had never been blessed by the holy land. No person among the Nandor had ever been to Valinor, so they and their descendants lacked that light and could be called "low" elves. The Silvan or "Green Elves" are descendants of the Nandor, and are always ruled by a Sindar king. An example is the realm of Mirkwood, mostly peopled by Silvan but ruled by the Sindar King Thranduil and Prince Legolas.
The Nandor and Silvan elves, and to a lesser degree the Sindar, were considered "less wise and more dangerous" than the Falmari, Noldor, and Vanyar. They can generally be considered "wood elves", wild and true to their own traditions and values. They value this freedom and the security of their realm very highly, and more of their efforts and time are spent in preserving that realm against the darknesses of Marred Middle Earth than their relatives in Valinor. They make great crafts of wood and leather and mold living wood to their wishes as housing. They know the secret ways of the forest and how to move silently among the leaves. Most Silvan elves have brown hair, but Sindar can have white or silver hair.
The Falmari and non-Valinoran Teleri can be understood as "sea elves", adorned in pearls and nets and singing to the sound of the waves. Of all elves, the Teleri are also called "Lindar" or "Singers" because of their innate and masterful skills with song. They have some personal relationships with the Vala of waters and oceans and the angels of the oceans. They tend to have silver hair.
Elfkin Impact on Otherkin History
There are a lot of phrases in otherkin vocabulary that trace their origins directly back to use in elfkin circles. The oldest known internet source for otherkin content was Elfinkind Digest, a mailing list that was started by a University of Kentucky student in 1990 "for elves and interested observers". In the 90s the elfkin community also coined the term otherkin as a way to describe people with similar feelings who did not feel elven.
In 1995 the Elven Nation Manifesto was posted to Usenet. It contained a lot of modern otherkin ideas, such as the idea that elves have something significant to contribute to the world, and a mention of a "veil to the otherworld", which is a barrier of sorts between this world and that of the faerie. The manifesto violated Usenet's crossposting etiquette, which were much more strictly observed than crossposting etiquette is now. It was widely panned and considered trolling, but enough people contacted the original poster in good faith to form a mailing list spin off from it.
The septagram, or 7-pointed star, also originates from the early elfkin community. It was used to identify themselves and each other, and through elfkin mailing lists and forums turning into general otherkin spaces but maintaining the elfkin name, the elf star, also known as the fairy star, became a symbol used generally by the community.
1970s Elfkin Movement