Valravn, Danish Folklore’s Raven of the Slain

In Danish folklore, a valravn (“raven of the slain”) is a supernatural raven associated with death. These Ravens of the Slain appear in many traditional Danish folksongs which describe them as originating from ravens who eat the bodies of the dead on the battlefield. According to Danish folklore recorded in the late 1800s, when a king or chieftain was killed in battle and not found and buried, ravens came and ate him. The ravens then became valravne. The valravne that ate the king’s heart gained human knowledge and could perform great…

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Helhest, The Three-Legged Horse from Hel

In Danish folklore, a helhest (Danish “Hel horse”) is a three-legged horse associated with the Norse goddess Hel. The Helhest is also associated death and illness and it is mentioned in folklore as having been spotted in various locations in Denmark. The horse figures into a number of Danish phrases as recent as the 19th century, such as “han går som en helhest” (“he walks like a hel-horse”) for a male who “blunders in noisily”. The helhest is sometimes described as going “around the churchyard on his three legs, he…

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Nisse, Folklore’s Hidden Guardian of the Homestead

A nisse is a spiritual creature from Ancient Scandinavian folklore that in modern times is usually associated with the Winter Solstice and Christmas season. It is believed that nisse originate before the Asa belief, which predates Christianity. Nisse are one of the most familiar creatures in Scandinavian folklore and have appeared in many works of Scandinavian literature. They are both solitary and mischievous domestic sprites responsible for the protection and welfare of the farm and homestead. It is generally described as being no taller than 90 cm (3 ft), having a long white beard, and wearing a…

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