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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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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Huldra, Folklore’s Lady in the Forest

A huldra is a dangerous seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore. She is a member of a family of a very ancient beings that inhabit the forest, but remain hidden from humankind. In Scandinavian folklore, the huldra (Norwegian, derived from a root meaning “covered,” “hidden,” or “secret”) is a very elusive and seductive creature of the forest. The huld-rå being is a rå, which is a keeper or warden of a particular location or landform. The different species of rå are sometimes distinguished according to the different spheres of nature with which they…

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