Yet the Gods helped to create the Dwarves, and gave them very special duties. In Gylfaginning it says : The Gods held counsel and remembered how Dwarves had quickened it the earth and under the soil, like maggots in flesh. The Dwarves had first emerged, and come to life in Ymir's flesh, and at that time were but maggots. But by the decree of the Gods they acquired human understanding, and the appearance of man, although they lived in the earth, and in the rocks. They also took Ymir's skull and made the sky from it, and set it over the earth with its four sides. Under each of the sides they placed a Dwarf. These are called Austri ( East ), Vestri ( West ), Nordri ( North ), and Sudri ( South) .
From Voluspa we get a very short description of where they live: " At the stone doorways of deep stone dwellings, Dwarfs are moaning, seek you wisdom still" ? In my short story, "Freyja's Journey", I describe the Dwarves realm in this way : " She ( Freyja ) slowly passed earthen huts, each lit with a torch. The roof of this land is covered with roots which grow down like the branches of an upside down tree. Water drips from this strange ceiling like rain from dark clouds. "
In Gylfaginning there are listed 61 Dwarves, ( too many to list here), and in a listing of the best of each species, Dvalin is listed as the best of the Dwarves. One of these 61 Dwarves, named Alvis, who has been promised, by the Aesir we may presume, the hand of Thor's daughter in marriage, without His consent, is met by an angry Thor. Thor asks: " Who is this loathsome monster." To this Alvis replies: " Under the stones, deep in the earth I dwell." Thor also insults him: " With that pale nose, you must spend your nights in grave - mounds." Then Thor tells Alvis that he will never marry the fair maiden unless he answers all of His questions about every one of the worlds. Alvis then answers all of Thor's questions correctly, and believes that he has won the hand of the fair Goddess, but Thor has tricked him. Thor tells Alvis : " But too much talk has trapped you Dwarf, for you must die in daylight. The sun shines now into the hall."
From these few short lines we can gain so much knowledge about these little creatures. We learn first of all that these Dwarves are seen as ugly creatures, with pale noses, and not worthy of marrying an Aesir woman. We learn that they live under stones in the earth, and that though he is an intelligent creature, he does not seem to have a lot of common sense to be tricked so easily by Thor into staying in the realm of light so long. Finally, we learn that Dwarves cannot be exposed to sunlight, or possibly even daylight, without dire consequences. I have always wondered whether they wither away like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, or if they catch on fire and are consumed in that way. Sorry, I wonder about everything !
In Part 2 of The Dwarves I will show you their treachery, and in Part 3, I will recount their great tales of craftsmanship. See you then !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !