Creatures and entities from Norwegian folklore

Hel

Sick, Sad World
In Norwegian folklore there are many strange and often dangerous creatures posing a threat to the unwary travellers and adventurers who venture into the untamed wilderness and those who decide to settle there, some have their roots in the viking age like draugs and trolls, while others like Pesta is linked with the black death which desolated villages and farms in the middle ages.
Here I have written and compiled a list of some of the most common creatures and entities found in Norwegian folklore.


Nøkken

Nøkken is a malevolent water spirit who lives in marshes and lakes, he can appear either as a horrible monster or a handsome young man and he is said to lure women and children to their deaths with enchanting music.

Pesta

Pesta is a manifistation of plague who appears as an old gaunt woman carrying a rake and a broom, wherever she goes she is followed by a flock of ravens, who often fly ahead and signals to the people that doom is upon them, when Pesta passes death and destruction follows in her wake.

Huldra

The Hulders are malevolent creatures who live underground, they venture out and spellbind young men and bring them back to their underground realm were they are enslaved, some Hulders also infiltrate human settlements and have children with them or steal their babies and replace them with their own children.
The Huldra appears as a beautiful woman save one feature a cow tail which she always tries to hide, when she is exposed her back becomes hollow like a dead tree trunk.

Troll

The troll is a large and ugly creature that originated in Norse mythology, trolls are known to be dangerous and stupid, they only come out at night and if they are exposed to sunlight they will turn to stone, there are many different types of trolls based mostly on the ecological zone they inhabit, some examples are forest trolls, mountain trolls, cave trolls, snow trolls, and sea trolls. A famous troll is Dovregubben who was a king of trolls in the story of Per Gynt.

Nisse

The nisse is a somewhat unpredictable but often benevolent creature that makes it's home in a barn, it's believed if you offer it food it will help and protect the farmstad, but it can also play tricks and disrupt people if it feels it's being mistreated or not treated properly.
It's apperance is that of dwarfish humanoid with a long beard and pointed hat(often red).

Draug

A Draug is the animated spirit of a dead person come back to haunt the living, the apperance and behavior of the draug vary depending on the circumstances of the deceased's death. A common depiction is that of a drowned sailor haunting oceans and waterways, dragging it's victim to the bottom of the sea.

Underjordiske

Underjordiske are creatures, entities and spirits who live in the underworld, only venturing forth to the surface world to cause mischief and despair, a few are benevolent but the majority are malevolent creatures. Both nøkken and huldre are part of the underjordiske.

Fanden

Fanden is the devil and the personification of evil, he often appears at farms disguised as a musician who spellbinds his audience with unatural beautiful music, he appears as a man expect one of his feet is cloven like that of a goat.

Northern lights

The old Norse believed that the northern lights was a reflection of the Valkyries shield as they rode over the skies, some also believed that it was the gods who brought warmth to a frozen earth.
In west Norway they believed that it was witches and sorcerers from the north who caused the northern lights while in some parts of east Norway they believed that the northern lights could cause insanity.
The Sami believed that it was a wrathful entity that you had to be careful not to cross or else it might steal your children or make you paralyzed.
There were also some general beliefs that the northern lights was a veil into the spirit world and that the dead were trying to communicate with the living.
 
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snatch

Avidly prowling for spoil
we received this card days ago and sat talking about the story going on and how cool it was. I actually considered asking you about it....brilliant stuff

is it the northern lights in the distance or fire...?
the picture embraces my senses
 
OP
Hel

Hel

Sick, Sad World
Looks like burning trees or bushes to me


The image is 'Julereia' by Nils Bergslien, which depicts a chaotic group of nisser, trolls and witches lead by Fanden(the devil) visiting farms in Christmas time causing all kinds of mischief and dragging along any person who stands in their way.
 
OP
Hel

Hel

Sick, Sad World
Here is an old poem about Nøkken(the neck), I had to change the words and arrangments a bit to make it sound better in English.

Heiemo and the Neck



Heiemo chanted her song in the hillside
Wake up, noble youth
The Neck have heard you and is striding on the sea
Because you have slept for too long

Heiemo chanted her song inside the grove
Wake up, noble youth
The Neck have heard, for the Neck have heard
That you have slept for too long

The Neck spoke to the helmsman
Wake up, noble youth
You steer my ship to Christian lands
For someone have slept for too long

To Christian land I'll go
Wake up, noble youth
That virgin I want to have
Because they have slept for too long

So into the cottage he entered
Wake up, noble youth
With hat and rosy cheeks
For they have slept for too long

The Neck he danced and Heiemo chanted
Wake up, noble youth
It pleased all the people that were there
For someone had slept for too long

Heiemo, Heiemo, still your sorrow
Wake up, noble youth
Υou shall sleep in the arms of the Neck
Because you slept for too long

Here you lie Neck, with ravens and dogs
Wake up, noble youth
Still I have my chanting grove
For someone have slept for too long

Here is a cool song version of this tale I found on youtube(singing start at 3:12, first and third verse are omitted):
 
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OP
Hel

Hel

Sick, Sad World
Let me tell you of an old legend as it was told to me by my mother, about two brothers who incurred the warth of the northern light, I don't know the name of the tale or whatever it has one and there might be more variations of the tale, but this is how I remember it and the story goes like this;
There once was two brothers from Finnmark who were out walking when they spotted the northern light, the youngest brother feeling confident and haughty decided to mock the northern light, by fluttering and insulting it with a rhyme;

"The northern light it races,
With grease foaming at it's mouth,
With a hammer at it's head,
With an axe at it's back!"

The older brother tried to stop him, but he just continued shouting louder and louder until the northern light with all its fury unleashed itself upon them, dragging with it the younger brother and with violent fury smashing him to the ground killing him instantly. The older brother ran away and become lost in the wilderness never to be seen again.
 
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OP
Hel

Hel

Sick, Sad World
Nøkken

Nøkken is a malevolent water spirit who lives in marshes and lakes, he can appear either as a horrible monster or a handsome young man and he is said to lure women and children to their deaths with enchanting music.
Nøkken can also shapeshift into a white horse


Some modern interpretations of 'Nøkken'

 

torgeir

Rookie
another creature from norwegian folkore is "Fossegrimen" og just "Grim" he is the brother of Nøkken

he is a supernatural being or vette which according Nordic folklore located at rivers and especially waterfalls and mills.
He is known to be a very accomplished fiddler who plays nature powerful sound - the sound of the forest, the wind - all may sound quivering between violin strings. Fossegrimen are willing to teach his violin whether four Thursdays in a row comes with a juicy mutton stolen from the neighbor's storehouse. This must happen in deepest secrecy.

According to old beliefs taught Myllarguten(famous norwegian fiddle player) to play the fiddle by Fossegrimen against that he put his soul in pledge.


 
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