"Angels" in Norse mythology

In the first image in this description of Freyja, she’s surrounded by a number of smaller beings that look like babies with wings. Which is pretty much the same way that cherubim are commonly depicted, at least in recent art.

What are these beings supposed to be? Obviously not angels, since, they weren’t part of Norse mythology. Perhaps some similar concept of divine assistants?

I don’t know the source of the image, but I suspect the artist is simply borrowing the conventions of Christian iconography to produce an image of the Goddess which will be recognisable iconographic. As she is a sex-god, the cherubs could possibly be rationalised as cupids.

The painting is mentioned in this article from 1882 in Svenska Familje-Journalen (in Swedish). There, they are called “Ljusalfer”, that is, “Light elves”.

Apparently, “Light elves”, (Ljósálfar in icelandic), and Dökkálfar, dark elves, are only mentioned in the prose edda by Snorri Sturlusson, and there is some question if he was influenced by christian writings about angels of light and darkness representing good and evil.

My hypothesis is that it’s a result of Christian influence. There are Norse artifacts that mix Christian symbols with the Aesir and Vanir. One of my books has pictures of a stelae that has Odin being devoured by wolves on Ragnarok on one side, and Christ on the cross on the other. Another set of carvings features Sigfried (or is it Sigurd?) reforging his father’s sword, and the adoration of the magi.

I maintain that they are not light elves, but Christian angels.

So, it represents a kind of transitionary period between paganism and Christianity, then?

Diceman that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There’s debate over whether a particular passage in an edda (at the moment, I can’t remember if it’s the prose or the poetry) is a reference to the coming of the Christian God after Ragnarok. Some translators render it ‘a great god who I will not name’ and say it’s purely pagan. Others translate it as ‘a God so great I will not name Him’ and say it’s a reference to God. I’ve seen convincing stuff from both sides and remain undecided.

Are we still Talking about the painting? It is a romantic fantasy from the 19th century. Sweden had been Christian for 700 years by then. Certainly not a transitional period piece.