Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Folklore

Theme ~ Swedish Rhapsody

A book of Swedish folktales from the 1800s

In Swedish folklore, many different creatures lived in the forests and around the farms. I will tell you about the two most common, Tomtar and Troll, when we get to the letter T. 
If you venture out into a Swedish forest on a light summer's night, you will see mist twirl over the water of a small lake and you may see fairies dancing. Or you may come upon a huge boulder, a left-over from the ice age, and you may see a giant. A flick of a fleeing deer's tail could convince you that you just saw a wood nymph turn and flee as you came close. The song of the rushing stream and perhaps a fallen tree limb could make you believe you saw and heard Naecken or Stromkarlen, playing his fiddle. There is a special light in the Northern hemisphere during summer and I absolutely understand how  people truly believed they saw these creatures of the forest. 

Fairies were usually benevolent beings that would bestow good luck on their chosen humans with a flick of their magic wand. 
Giants could be dangerous, but they had to go back to their caves before the sun came out or they would melt. 
Wood nymphs were seductive beings that you had to be aware of if you were a man. Encountering a wood nymph from the front, you would see a beautiful woman who could bedazzle any man. But when she turned around, you would see that her back was hollowed out and she had a tail. A wood nymph could put an unfortunate man under her spell and there was no way of knowing what would happen then.

By Swedish Artist John Bauer 
My favorite of these creatures is Naecken, or Stromkarlen, a sad being, who was doomed to live in streams, waterfalls, and rivers.  His only chance to escape from his involuntary life in the water was contact with a human being. Thus, he played  sad and haunting tunes on his fiddle, trying to lure a young girl to his side. Naecken has come to represent our longing for the unattainable.

 By Swedish artist John Bauer 
My book that I pictured above, contains many ghost and other scary stories from around Sweden. Imagine the days before electric light, TV, and all the other noisy entertainments of today, sitting around a slowly dying fire and listening to these scary/fun tales being told. What a different life........


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