Elves and gnomes were an integral part of every day life in the ancient days. There were house elves, barn elves, mill elves, fire elves etc. but also evil gnomes. Actually it was thought that every place in the nature and among men had a specific spirit or elf. The house elf or home elf was the spirit of the first man who lived in the house, who made the first fire in the fire place.

Elves lived with men in every building. They had protective roles and took care of all well being in the buildings, wealth of the family, quality of the meal ground in the mill, welfare of the beasts in the barn etc. “Saunatonttu”, that is the Elf of the Sauna, had a very important role because women always gave birth in the sauna. Elves could also prevent accidents by warning in advance.

But it was also possible to make the elves angry. If you behaved badly, drank too much beer, mistreated your animals, showed greed or malice then he or she showed it to you by making noises or throwing things, or ruining your hunting luck. When you were dealing with elves you had to be careful; the elves were capable also to kill if need be. Usually female elves were shorter tempered and so male elves were more desirable as house elves. You always had to ask for permission from the elf to enter the building like sauna or drying barn. To keep an elf happy you gave him/her food, some times special offerings like money, precious metal, liquor.

Few people could see elves. You must have a sensitive mind for spiritual things to see them. But if the elf wished anybody could see him/her. Usually when they appeared to common men they had an important message. Elves wore gray cloaks and red caps. Usually they were small and shy.

Nature had its own spirits and elves. Spirit of the Lake had an image of a beautiful, long haired, naked young woman. To see her meant usually death by drowning. There were also male lake gnomes. Vetehinen had long dark hair and beard. Usually he was friendly and could guide the fishes to your tackles but he could not be trusted. Clearly malicious character was Näkki. He was a shape shifter and he lured children to the beach and dragged them under water.

Spirit of the Forest was a curious character. She was a beautiful maiden but when she turned her back she looked like an old tree. She was attracted by hunters, and the hunters were attracted by her. At camp fires there were told tales about sons of hunters and the Spirit of the Forest. Anyway the light of the camp fire in the wood attracted the Spirit and she might spend the night by the fire, guarding it and the safety of the hunter. She might also wake the man and lure him to make love with her, and afterwards reward him by a good catch.

Maahinen (pl. Maahiset) was an elf who lived under-ground. They looked like ordinary people but were smaller. They were respected for their decent way of life which actually was very similar with that of men. You could some times see or hear their small cattle in the forest. Springs and clear water ponds were usually favourite sites of the Maahiset. There were also tales of men who entered their world permanently and lived there, usually lured by the extraordinary beauty of the daughters of Maahiset.