How can we see them in the modern Swedish society?
Tutor: Joan Lindberg
- The most common Swedish folklores:
Skogsrået-The Wood Nymph
- Analysis – what traces of the folklores can we see in the modern Swedish society? - Conclusion
- Source criticism:
For hundreds of years, the Swedish people have told stories about supernatural creatures living in the unknown woods and the darkest shadows. The history of Sweden is filled with myths, legends and beliefs. What creatures were the most common ones here and what did people think of them? This is what one can read about in this paper, and also the role of witches and the witch hunts and what we can still see of them today. What will also be discussed is what traces of the folklores we can see in modern society here in Sweden, what all these old stories have led to, so to say. The most common folklores in Sweden
Since there were so many various stories told about different supernatural creatures and even more different versions of them depending on where in Sweden they were told, it would be almost impossible to describe them all. Therefore, only the most common ones are described here. One should keep in mind that these are only a few interpretations of the old legends and that they may look a little different in other contexts. These are the beings that have managed to stay alive in people´s minds and that we still tell some stories about in Sweden today:
Näcken is one of the most common legendary figures found in Swedish folklore. He has often been described as a little man wearing grey clothing and a red hat, or as young and handsome, but the descriptions of him differ strongly depending on where in the country they were told. A proficient shapeshifter, he could take shape of various different animals. The most famous animal that he is described as (mostly in the southern parts of Sweden),almost more than as a human, is as a horse, called “Bäckahästen” (“bäcka” refers to the Swedish word for rill and “häst” means horse). 1 This horse was white and grew longer and longer as more people, usually children, climbed onto his back. He then carried them to a lake with thin ice or something similar, where he could drown them. 23 Näcken was believed to be living in lakes and streams, where he tried to entice people into the water. He enchanted them by playing on his violin, more beautiful and sad than anyone else in the world, making the people want to get closer and closer until they basically walked into the water by themselves, then he dragged them down into the deep and drowned them. His music could also make them dance until they died from exhaustion. Therefore, parents thoroughly told their children not to go too close to the water or to ride any unfamiliar horse.4 Fiddlers could learn to play the violin from Näcken, but that was a risky mission. One had to sacrifice something into the water where Näcken lived. The sacrifices could be things such as three drops of blood, a black animal, brandy or a bone of meat. Though, the learning process was not a dance on roses. The music performed by the mysterious man could be dangerous and the person trying to learn it could be enchanted and jump into water or dance himself to death just by hearing it.5
Skogsrået- The Wood Nymph
The Wood Nymph, or “Skogsrået”, as she is more often called in Sweden, was another mysterious and dangerous creature, who was believed to be lurking around in the woods. The stories about her are more common in the southern parts of Sweden and she becomes less and less known the further up north the country one comes. She was a female creature with a very beautiful and alluring look, mostly wearing only light clothes or nothing at all. But that was only the front of her. As she turned around, a...
Bibliography: 3. “Svenska Allmogens Lif i Folksed, Folktro och Folkdiktning” by Tobias Norlind (1912)
Probably, the first thing one think when seeing this book is that it is very old
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