"Fossegrimen" (The Fiddle Master)
Illustration: “Fossegrimen” by Jonny Andvik (1966)
Fossegrimen is a good natured, but moody spirit that dwells in waterfalls. He is so skillful at playing the violin that he has the power to enchant people with his music, and in combination with his youthful good looks, he really is an irresistible spirit. It is said, if properly approached, Fossegrimen will teach a musician to play so beautifully that the music will make the trees dance and even have the power to make watherfalls stop. The very best fiddlers have been trained by this fiddle master.
His lessions will start when the sun goes down til the sun rises, three Thursday evenings in a row, and after every lessions he have to get a big and nice steak in return from the musicians who was chosen to be his students. They also have to come alone and promise not to tell anyone where and when the teaching would be, if the agreement is broken in any ways, the consequenses can be fatal.
Taken by Nøkken (The Evil Water Spirit)
Illustration: "Nøkken screams'" by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
A young girl came walking down to a beautiful pond in the forest when she saw some amazing water lilies floating near the waterside. She took off her shoes and waded into the water while stretching her arm out to pick one of the white flowers. Just when her hand touched the surface of the water a huge slimy hand came up between the flowers and dragged her under. Her shoes was found by some hunters, but no one ever saw the little girl again. The locals still talk about how you sometimes can hear a wailing song from this pond.
It ´s said, from very old times, that whoever picks waterlilies will drown. The only chance you have to survive Nøkken is to shout out his name, then he has to let you go.
"Huldresølv" (Huldra´s silver)
Illustration: "Huldra" by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
A man was hunting in the mountains when he found a piece of jewellery, a brooch, on a mountain path. It was so amazingly beautiful that he took a leather strap on it and carried it on his chest. After a few days he began to hear a beautiful singing but couldn´t see anyone around, and at night he dreamed about the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. After a week this beautiful girl was constantly on his mind, both night and day, and as the time passed he kept himself more and more for himselves. One day he was so bothered that he told his friends about the girl. The next day he went into the mountains again. After a week he still had not come home and a huge searching was arranged, but no one could find him. The village people was confident that the man had been "bergtatt" (spirited off), taken by "Huldra" and had become one of the spirits from the underground.
A secret from the elves
To make you even more beautiful
My grandmother told about an old secret from the elves: "Collect the drops of the morning dew and use it to wash your face and body. This will make your skin beautiful and soft".
(Illustration: Unknown artist, so if you recognize this, please let me know)
A man was visited by Mara several nights in a row and he didnt know what to do, but suddenly he saw a little hole in the wall beside the bed. The next night when he woke up from the worst nightmare ever, he bounced up and closed the hole in the wall with a wooden nail. When he turned the most beautiful woman he had ever seen was in his bed, and as time went on they married and had three children together. One night the man was in a bad mood and he began abusing his wife and told about the night they met. It was a wild riot and it all ended with the man pulling out the wooden nail from the wall. Immediately a terrible sound came form the wife and she turned into a dark fog an disappeared out through the hole in the wall. This was the last time the man saw his wife.
It is believed that you can protect yourself agains the Mare or nightmares by stopping up the keyhole, placing the shoes with the toes facing the door, and then getting into bed backwards.
The Troll Peaks
The highest peak on the ridge called Trolltindene is Store Trolltind, about 700 metres (2,300 ft) andt is a part of Reinheimen National Park in Møre og Romsdal.
A long, long time ago trolls lived in the valley called Romsdalen. One summer night they were celebrating a big wedding. They feasted and drank during their journey to the Troll-church, which stands at the foot of the mountain, the Romsdalshorn, and there was seemingly no end to their revelry and merriment. They progressed so slowly that dawn was starting to break before they had arrived and they were so absorbed in their fun and games that they did not even notice! As you know, when trolls are exposed to sunlight, they burst and turn to stone. As the sun rose above the hillcrest, the whole bridal procession was immediately struck.
The trolls are still there, petrified, you may see them peak by peak, and today these are called Trolltindene – The Troll Peaks.
A magical night
If you pick seven different varieties of wildflowers on Midsummer Night before you go to bed and put it under your pillow, you have a fare chance to dream about your future partner.
Walk barefoot in the wet grass on the Midsummer Day. The morning dew has great healing powers.
You can also collect droplets of the Midsummers dew. This drops will help making bread and beer to ferment well during the year.
"Trollbitt" (Bitten by the troll cat)
Illustration: By Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
A man was fishing in a mountain lake late at night. Suddenly a dark cat came behind him and tried to take the fish he had caught. The man chased the cat away, but short after the cat came back again. When the man had chased away this strange and troublesome cat repeatedly, he kicked the cat away of sheer anger. Immediately, the ground were full of gray and black cats, and the man realized this was nothing but pure witchcraft going on. He picked up the fish and the fishing rod to get home before it was to late. He had to be careful not stamping on the cats because if he did he would be "troll bitten", bitten by the troll-cats.
After hours of walking he could finaly see his home, but suddenly he felt fur under the left foot and it felt like a knife was stabbed into his leg. All the cats disappeared as suddenly as they came. When he got home he saw a red mark on his left leg and during the night it swelled up really bad. The next day the man was very sick and he just got worse and worse.
Finally he knew he had to send for someone who understood witchcraft, and this man said, to get rid of the witchcraft it had to be fired one shot over him three Thursday evenings in a row. This was something very few dared to do because the last Thursday evening when the witchcraft would let go of the one who had been accursed, it would instead chase after whoever had fired the gun.
Finally, there was a neighbor who dared to help the poor man, and he did exactly what he was told. The last Thursday evening when he had fired the gun, he ran the fastest he could from the neighboring farm. As he ran the air was filled with a greyish black fog and just behind him he heard angry hissing and the worst screams of pain he could ever imagine. He ran like crazy into his house and slammed the door behind him. The following day he went to see the neighbour, and the neighbour could tell that in the same moment the third shot was fired it felt like the pain was draged out of his body. After just a few days the man was completely healed.
Dancing with "Huldra" (The Forest Nymph)
Illustration: Unknown artist, so if you recognize this, please let me know)
There was a local party where all the village people were gathered, and around midnight a beautiful girl entered the room. People could not bare themselves from staring at her. She was the most beautiful sight they had ever seen. No one knew who she was, and some of the elders began whispering about visits from the underworld. Soon the words began wandering around inside the house and people began to mock and moved away from her.
A boy felt sorry for the girl who was sitting alone and invited her for a dance. The girl was light as a feather and the boy thought it was fun to dance with her as they moved like a wind across the floor. Suddenly he noticed that she had a tail hanging down between her legs and whispered; "Watch out beautiful stranger, your braid has fallen down to your shoes". She stopped dancing and hid her tail. She gave the boy a red band, smiled and whispered back; "This is for you. Keep it and I will watch over you". She ran out the door and disappeared. The boy ran after her, but she was gone.
The boy took good care of the red band, and as an old man he told his family about the beautiful girl and that he was convinced that this band had brought happiness and good luck to him. When the time came and the man was going to leave this world, he dug down the band outside the front door of the family farm. From that day, it´s said, whoever stayed at the farm enjoyed a good and peaceful life.
Help from the "Little people"
Illustration: "Nissen" by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
A farmer was carrying timber late at night, when the horse suddenly stopped and refused to go any further. The man got off the cart and in the twilight he saw a little man who held on to the horse with a determined glow in his eyes. When the farmer saw the stranger the little man let go of the horse and disappeared. The farmer jumped on the cart again and the horse went ahead, but shortly after they heard a terrible sound and soon large rocks came raging down the mountain and across the road just in front of them.
When the farmer came home that night he placed a large keg of beer in his barn and said: "My dear friend, thank you for saving the hores and me tonight!"
Dancing with the elves
Illustration: "Alvelek" by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
A young man got lost in the woods and when the night came he was so tired of walking in circles. He sat down under a large oak and fell asleep. After a while he woke up to a beautiful music. Beside of him he could see small humanoid creatures with wings, flying around him and dancing on the grass. They played and sang, and was the most amazing living beings he had ever seen. A beautiful elf woman took his hand and wanted to dance. He could not resist her beauty but joined her in a dance so wild and seductive that the man forgot both time and space. When he woke up next day he found his way home to the village at once, but he was never himself again after that night. The local people often saw him sitting under the old oak with a sly smile on his face, but he had lost his voice forever and was a loner rest of his life.
Illustration: "Dragon awakens" by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)
There are several places in Norway where you may happen to observe small, luminous fireballs rush across the sky. It is said that these fireballs are the last remnants of the ancient dragons. It just might happen, extremely rarely of course, that a dragon would materialize, and show himself in his original guise, but very few indeed would survive such a sight.
Dragons live underground or in deep caves, guarding treasures and fly through the air spewing out either fire or poison. If you should see a fireball streaking across the sky it just might be a Norwegian Dragon and if it is, you can be pretty sure it´s guarding a treasure either in the bottom of a lake or deep in a mountain nearby. Dragons have cape like wings, either snake or lizard – like bodies, dangerously sharp claws, glowing eyes and a mouth that spews out fire.
In Nordic mythology there is the famous story of the hero Sigurd the Dragon slayer who slays the dragon Fafnir. Fafnir had once been a dwarf but was turned into a huge dragon by an enchanted ring and sentenced to guard a large treasure deep in a cave. After killing Fafnir Sigurd drinks some of the dragon´s blood and by doing this gains the ability to understand the language of birds. The Norwegian film “The Littlest Viking “ has it´s main character named after Sigurd Dragon the slayer and is loosely based in a time period after Fanfirs death.
Another famous dragon is Nidhogg, from the Viking manuscript “Edda”, who constantly gnaws at the roots of the tree of life, Yggdrasil, hoping to bring about, Ragnorak, the end of the world.
There are a number of stories about woman who bath in springs or river streams used by dragons as their hiding places. These woman tend to give birth to very strong but wild children often with red hair.
Illustration: "Fanitullen" by Adolph Tidemand (1814-1876)
Hundreds of years ago a grand wedding was celebrated in the south of Norway. Family and friends of the couple were assembled to mark the big occasion. There was an abundance of the best food and drink you could imagine, and the guests ate and drank, danced and made merry. All of a sudden two youngsters started to bicker and soon they were rolling around on the floor, fighting. The other guests tried to intervene and part the fighters, but the boys were so hot-headed and aggressive, that they were not to be stopped.
While they were rolling around on the floor, the master of the ceremonies stepped down into the cellar to fetch more beer. Half way down the stairs he heard sounds he had never heard before, and as he entered the cavern were the vats were kept, he was met by a strange sight. There, astride a beer barrel, a man sat, playing a tune, wild and torrential. The master of ceremonies was flabbergasted. He had never seen anything like it, nor heard anyone play like this. With the fiddle upside down, the player rubbed his bow across the strings, and his foot tapping towards the barrel's side was a horse's hoof.
As soon as the master of ceremonies came to his senses, he climbed the stairs as quickly as he could. In the hall he found one of the irascible fighters lying on the floor, the other fled into the mountains.
Moments later, the master of ceremonies, armed with a large knife and assisted by three of the guests, entered the cave to get rid of the demon, but there was no one to be either heard or seen.
Since that day, the master of ceremonies never descended into the cellar alone, and even though he never saw the scary fiddler again, he never forgot the tune the stranger had played. This tune has ever since been part of the repertory of any fiddler from the area. The tune is called Fanitullen, which means the devil's tune.
The Dead rides at night
Illustration: "Åsgårdsreien" by Peter Nicolai Arbo (1768–1827)
It was December and everybody at Bjørkvoll farm worked hard to make everything ready for Christmas. But every year the same thing happened: the little village was haunted by the dreaded Oskoreia, a dreadful host of riders, made up of dead souls, all rushing across the night sky, screaming like thunder. Often, the dead would enter the farmhouses and eat the food and drink the beer that had been prepared for the Christmas festivities. Sometimes they would amuse themselves by riding the local horses so hard that they would be lame or limping afterwards.
Ola’s farm, Bjørkvoll, had been hassled by the dreaded Oskoreia for many years, even though he always took the precaution of painting crosses above all his doors, well ahead of the festive season. At that time people commonly thought that the cross, the sign of the Christian god, would frighten the dead and keep them away, but still they were haunted year after year. This Christmas, Ola had erected a cross made of two huge logs in the courtyard, making it impossible to enter the main house, and at the entrance to the barn he placed a platter of cured ham and mutton and a big barrel of beer.
When the farm people had gone to bed that evening, they were awakened by such crashing noises, such bedlam and commotion, that you would think the end of the world was nigh. Ola quickly got dressed and ran out into the night and cried: “Easy now, good neighbours! There is an abundance of food and drink for you all in the barn, so let us celebrate Christmas in peace and quiet!”
The next morning, Ola found two silver spoons lying on the slab of stone by the main door. It was a token of gratitude from the dead, since Ola had shown them respect and spoken politely to them. Since that Christmas Eve, Bjørkvoll was never again visited by the Oskorei, and they could celebrate Christmas in peace and quiet.
"Fjøsnissen" (a little spirit who lives and works at the farm)
Illustration by Hans Gude (1825-1903)
"Nisse" is a supernatural being in Nordic folklore that lives near people. He has a furrowed old man's face with white or gray beard and he is of small stature, but extremly strong. He helps with all the work at the farm and is mostly in a very nice spirit to have around, but if he is not treated well, he can soon become vicious and harm people and animals. Many farms had, and still have, its own "Fjøsnisse" (Farm Nisse) that helped the farmers. It was important to appreciate this small beings, and one way of showing gratitude was to put out porridge for him in the barn.
At a farm there was a maid who several nights stole porridge from "Fjøsnissen". One night she was sitting in the barn eating the porridge, the little man came in. He asked the girl for a dance, but the girl did not manage to answer before she suddenly was dragged into his arms. The dance became wilder and wilder, and while he danced, he sang: "You've eaten my porridge, and you shall dance with me. You´ve eaten my porridge, and you shall no more be".
Early next morning, the farmer found the maid dead in the barn, and from top till toes she was decoreated with porridge.
"Svarteboka" (The Black Book)
Illustration: At the State Archives in Sogn og Fjordane you can find a digitized Black Book from 1813.
Some priests did more than preaching from the Bible and had studied at the black school in Wittenberg. In exchange for the Black Book they had given their souls to the devil. It was said that such people do not cast a shadow. In old times, nearly every parsonages had a copy of The Black Book.
When the town Skien burned in 1884, there lived an old couple in a house and the man owned a Black Book. This day, when the fire flared up, they had a man staying with them. The fire spread to houses around and the visitor was so afraid that he ran towards the frontdoor. Then the landlord said calmly from the rocking chair: "Just sit, you're safe here. Here it will not burn, trust me". Next day, most of all the neighbourhood was burned down, but the house of the landlord was spared. It was the Black Book, with the powerful red letters, that had kept the fire away.