Clarissa Johal: #FolkloreThursday - Trolls, Hulder, and Nattmara - #Scandinavian Mythological Beings

Thursday, November 8, 2018

#FolkloreThursday - Trolls, Hulder, and Nattmara - #Scandinavian Mythological Beings

Theodor Kittelsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Part One - Scandinavian Mythological Beings

In Scandinavian folklore, there are several kinds of mythological beings. Trolls (jotnar), hulder and nattmara, to name a few. 
Trolls (jotnar) are said to dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves. They often live together in small family units but are rarely helpful to humans. They are towering, stone-like creatures with colossal limbs. Some of them are so unkempt that plants will root in their skin. The ugliest jotnar can have single eyes or multiple heads. It is said they turn into stone when exposed to sunlight. Trolls are traditionally dim-witted creatures, boasting brute strength and a connection with nature.

Bernard Evans Ward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The hulder are seductive creatures and can easily be mistaken for attractive humans. They have beautiful voices that mimic wind or water. It is said they can lure men into caves or forests in order to suck the life from them. The only giveaway to their deceptive form is they have a cow or fox-like tail, which they usually keep hidden. If a hulder can convince a man to marry them in a church, that tail falls off and they will become human. However, their beauty will also be lost and the hulder transforms into an ugly creature.

Nattmara (nightmares) are a race of female werewolves. They appear as a pale, skinny woman with long black hair and talon-like fingernails. They have the ability to turn themselves into sand and slip through the smallest crack. Once they've breached the home, they straddle the victim's chest at night to cause nightmares. Nattmara could also tangle one's hair so that the knots would have to be cut out. In some tales, they are similar to the banshee in that they are a death omen. The nattmara would leave a dirty poppet behind to cause a member of the family to contract tuberculosis. To avoid being targeted by a nattmara, a person could leave shoes (or nail a horseshoe) at/to the foot of the bed. Supposedly, the nattmara would see this are being an uncrossable boundary or find them distracting. They would then leave that person alone.

Stop by next Thursday for Part Two: Scandinavian Water Spirits

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