Ratatoskr, Yggdrasil’s Flyting Messaging Service

Ratatoskr is a squirrel who runs up and down the world tree Yggdrasil to carry messages between Veðrfölnir, perched atop Yggdrasil, and the wyrm Níðhöggr, who dwells beneath one of the three roots of the tree. Ratatoskr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson Veðrfölnir is a hawk sitting between the eyes of an unnamed eagle that is perched on top of the world tree Yggdrasil.  Níðhöggr is a dragon/serpent/wyrm who gnaws…

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Remember, when taking a Selkie to always hide her skin well

selkie

Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. These mythological creatures from the sea are found in Irish, Scottish, Faroese, and Icelandic folklore. The stories frequently revolve around female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans by someone stealing and hiding their sealskin, often not regaining the skin until years later upon which they commonly return to the sea, forsaking their human family. Male selkies are described as being very handsome in their human form, and having great seductive…

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Norse Folklore, The Night Mare

A Mare is an evil spirit or huldrefolk (hidden folk) in folklore which rides on people’s chests while they sleep, often bringing on bad dreams or “nightmares“. The mare (Old Norse: mara) is mentioned in the Eyrbyggja saga, Ynglinga saga, and Vatnsdæla sagas. In English, the name appears in the word for “nightmare“. The Swedish word “mardröm” literally means mara-dream, the Norwegian word “mareritt” and the Danish “Mareridt”, both mean ‘Mare-ride’ or the Icelandic word ‘martröð’ means mara-dreaming repeatedly. The Mara is also a demon in Buddhism and some Buddhists have amulets blessed by monks to…

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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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The Hidden Hollow gets an awesome trailer! The Rise in Viking Themed Fiction

trailer hidden hollow

The Hidden Hollow, a Norse-themed historical fiction-fantasy, will be released this coming September and Spangenhelm Publishing just released an awesome trailer to promote it. In the trailer we see footage of someone running through Scandinavian forests, Viking warriors marching to battle, longships sailing through fjords, and what appears to be a huldra from Norse folklore hiding behind a tree. These are just some of the many things featured in The Hidden Hollow. With risk of further spoilers, it’s also revealed that it features some drama behind a vengeful draug – Vikings just won’t stay dead! Sadly, not many spoilers appear…

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Naglfar, the Giant(‘s) Ship of Nails

Naglfar

It was foretold that during the events of Ragnarök, a massive ship called Naglfar will carry an army of jötnar to a large field called Vígríðr to host a battle between the forces of the gods and the forces of Surtr (a jötunn). Naglfar (also Óskópnir or Naglfari), means “nail ship” in Old Norse. It is a massive ship which was foretold that will ferry hordes to do battle with the gods – and it is not held together by timber and iron nails, but by finger and toe nails! Yo-ho-yuck is right!   It’s a ship made entirely from the…

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Thor goes fishing

The story of Thor’s fishing trip is a well known and popular story in Norse literature and art. Reference to the story appears in both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, as well as other poems, manuscript illustrations, and various rune stone carvings. In the poem Hymiskviða, the Æsir gods had been hunting and after they ate their prey, they had an urge to drink. The gods decided that they would need to find suitable cauldrons and brew their ale at the sea jötunn, Ægir’s home. Ægir is a sea jötunn associated with the…

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The Boy Who Had an Eating Match with a Troll

The Boy Who Had an Eating Match with a Troll (Norwegian: Askeladden som kappåt med trollet) is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. Once on a time there was a farmer who had three sons; his means were small, and he was old and weak, and his sons would take to nothing. A fine large wood belonged to the farm, and one day the father told his sons to go and hew wood, and try to pay off some of his debts. Well, after…

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