A Tale of the Longaevi

Many medieval Catholic scholars regarded the world as containing not only humans (of all shapes and sizes, potentially including dog-headed men, monopods, and other strange children of Adam and Eve), but also “longaevi,” the long-living ones, the elves and fairies and dryads. C. S. Lewis talks about this in his book about medieval thought, The Discarded Image, and Michael Flynn deals with this in some of his medieval-setting science fiction.

Like mortals, longaevi could be good or evil, foolish or wise. Nobody could quite slot them into the model. Were they demons tricking people by pretending to be good or fickle? Were they neutral angels who were punished for being lukewarm? Were they spirits of the dead? Or were they a species of creature distinct from angels and men, going about their own business? Do they have anything to do with Thomist teaching about all animals, plants, and material objects having little souls of their own, and the Christian teaching that all Creation is part of Christ’s salvific plan, someday to live together on God’s holy mountain?

Nobody came to a definite conclusion. Perhaps it’s one of those things we will someday find out.

Shadowdancer tells us a story from her own experience, of a being which might well be described as a longaeva: “The White Lady of the Mango Tree.”

Baruch 5:8 —
“….The woods and every sweet-smelling tree have shaded Israel, by the commandment of God.”

Isaiah 44:23 —
“Give praise, O ye heavens, for the Lord has shown mercy.
Shout with joy, ye ends of the earth.
Ye mountains, resound with praise;
thou, O forest, and every tree therein.”

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