Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Weland Smith

(Norse Völund, German Wieland, English Wayland Smith) Supernatural Smith of Teutonic Mythology.

Weland married a swan maiden. He was captured by King Nithud, who took his Sword, gave his Ring to his daughter Bodvild and hamstrung him. He was imprisoned on an Island and made to work at his forge. In revenge, Weland killed the king's two young sons when they visited him secretly. He sent their father drinking-vessels made from their skulls, their mother jewels from their eyes, their sister breast-ornaments of their teeth. Bodvild brought him her ring to mend; he raped her, then escaped on Wings he had made.

He has features of both Trickster and shaman (> Shamanism). His story preserves a memory of ironworking as a mysterious craft brought from overseas. In England, Wayland's Smithy is an ancient burial chamber; legend says that if metal and payment are left outside, the finished article will appear in a day or two, provided the client makes no attempt to watch.

Forging a weapon for a Hero is potent magic. Weland is known as a wise Elf-lord. He made a magic sword for the Aesir and the armour in which Beowulf fought Grendel. The fairy blacksmith's mystery is symbolized in Arthur's swords: Arthur drew his sword of kingship from a black stone, and Excalibur passed from existence when plunged into water. [FS]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.