The great god Odin has a friendly chat with the elves, challenging their pat responses to his questions.  In the end, he lets them be, but exhorts them to at least do something. 

“Oh! indeed, Odin, we are not so very wicked.  We have never done anybody any harm.”

“Have you ever done anybody any good?” asked Odin.

“Oh! no, indeed,” answered the light elves, “we have never done anything at all.”

“You may go, then,” said Odin, “to live amongst the flowers, and play with the wild bees and summer insects.  You must, however, find something to do, or you will get to be mischievous like the dwarfs.”

Clearly, it isn’t enough to simply do no harm, one needs to do some good.  And do something!

And what a blessing, to live among flowers and play with summer insects.  I watched two beautiful scarce swallowtail butterflies grace our garden a few minutes after we planted blue-flowered purple basil. 

Source: A. and E. Keary, The Heroes of Asgard: Tales from Scandinavian Mythology, illus. by C. E. Brock (London: Macmillan, 1972 (1930)), p. 16

Photo credit: Erin McKenna at unsplash


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