Scinan

The word “scina” (Pronounced “Shine-a”) describes “something bright, shiner” and implies some luminous being of phantom, not unlike a will-o’-the-wisp. The adjective “sciene” means “radiant, beautiful” and is used when referring to particularly attractive women. “Ælfsciene” in particular refers to “elf-bright, beautiful as an elf”. All of these meanings point towards something attractive and radiant, yet dangerous due to a supernatural quality.

Perilous supernatural beings are normally conceived of something dark, inhabiting gloomy places like the shadows wherein their menace lies. Creatures of the light, however, are just as dangerous due to their ability to dazzle and beguile. The scinan may well be creatures of light, associated with or even identical to the Ielfe who are also beings of light, associated with the dead. The Norse tradition recognises both “light-elves” and “dark-elves” which may mean two distinct groups or conversely it may be referring to their dual nature as beings of fertility and also death.

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