Elf Darts/Shot

Elf Darts/Shot

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Supernatural beings of Teutonic mythology were called elves. It was believed that they were mischievous but could also be malignant, stealing children and leaving changelings in their place. Their weapon was the elf dart or arrow. Elf darts were used to harm cattle, making them sicken and run dry of milk. These darts were also used against humans. A child born with a deformity was referred to as "elf marked." A tangle in the hair was called an "elf lock."

The elf darts were made of flint and shaped like arrow heads. But rather than being fixed to an arrow and shot from a bow, the darts, or shots, were "spanged" by flicking from between thumb and forefinger.

Witches were often accused of using elf darts, and some admitted to doing so. In the trial of the Aldearne witches of Scotland in 1662, Issobel Gowdie testified, "As for Elf arrowheads, the Devil shapes them with his own hand, and then delivers them to Elf-boys, who whittle and dight them with a sharp thing like a packing needle." She further reported, "I shot at the Lord of Park, as he was crossing the Burn of Boath; but, thanks to God now, that he preserved him. Bessie Hay gave me a great cuff, because I missed him."

Elf bolts could be found scattered over the ground at the sites of elf battles. There had been a major one on the Isle of Man, between the elves and fairies of the south end of the island and those of the north. Gerald Gardner possessed a collection of these arrowhead-like elf bolts he had found there.