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Theodor Kittelsen. Nøkken, 1904. Section
Theodor Kittelsen. The Neck, 1904. Section.

Alternative Beings Around Abound

Many folklore creatures derive from myths, or the other way round. Which is oldest, the fairy tale motifs or those of myths, may be hard to document. Anyway, there are parallels. The popular Norse god Thor equipped with a great hammer and other magical things, keeps fighting giants "all day long". This fight lies at the back of many folk tales where the hero fights giants, or trolls.

Olav Bø and others tell that motifs in fairy tales are much like those in Norse Edda poems, like the Hymiskvida, Volundskvedet and Hyndluljod. Also, Danish Saxo's retellings of fights with dragons, and whole Norse sagas, like Kjetil Høngs saga, the saga of the shepherd boy Vidkunn and Egil Skallagrimsson's poem Hovudlausn are given as example. Like an Ashlad, Kjetil Høng kills a dragon, and the shepherd Vidkunn wins the princess thanks to magical tools. So there are parallels. (Bø et al. 1982, 13)

The dragon fight in a tale like "The Two Brothers" is similar to Norse Sigurd's fight against the serpent Fafnir and Thor's fight with the huge monster called Jörmungandr, or World Serpent, that was large enough to surround the earth and grasp its own tail. Three spinning women, norns, in Norse and other mythologies and in some folk tales. Sleeping Beauty have parts in common with Brynhild Budledaughter a woman that Sigurd (Fafnir's killer) wakes up. Golden appels and healthy fruits are also among the Norse gods. Idun's apples gave the gods perpetual youth, we are told. Girls that get swan cloaks are found in the Lay of Volund, which predates the Niebelung-tales. When the sun, moon and stars are given souls, it may be understood as a side to the poetics of Norse myths. (Ibid, 21)

Another way of seeing the sun, moon and stars is that they are essential beings. Both Greek and Norse mythology say that.

On Norse and later folk belief

In very recent times new legends have sprung up, after the fashion of the older. See, for instance, in Asbjørnsen's Huldreeventyr, The Jutul and Johannes Blessom, and others of a similar tenor.

Norse Giants often warred against one another and against Christendom. Legends about them are found in almost every parish. Into the 19th century and even further, Norwegian country-people believed to be surrounded by giants, brownies, wood sirens and other sirens. They were parts of the Scandinavian popular belief, also called folk religion, popular religion, or vernacular religion with its various forms and expressions that were different from official doctrines and practices of organized religion. Popular belief consists of ethnic or regional religious customs outside official doctrine. (WP, "Folk religion")

A Look into Norse Mythology

The next few sections are from Munch's Norse Mythology (An online version) It shows that many topics and creatures in later folk tales have forerunners, and also that Scandinavian forebears peopled their world with otherworldly beings, and/or personified a lot of them by poetic means. They include personifications.

The Giants:

The Giants, sworn enemies of men and of Æsir, were savage and violent but not always malicious. On occasion they might even manifest downright simplicity and good nature. They were of monstrous size, they often had several heads and hands, and they had dark skin and hair. Many of their women were well-favoured . . . one might have a tail, another two heads, and so forth. The Giants owned great herds of cattle, bulls with gold horns, sheep, horses, and dogs. . . .

If the sun's rays chanced to strike a Giant, he turned at once to stone. Now and then it happened that the Giants fought among themselves, throwing huge boulders at one another; but for the most part they were occupied in battle against mankind and the Æsir. . . .

Long after the introduction of Christianity, the Giants survived in popular beliefs, and a multitude of legends bear witness to the hostility of the Giants against churches and church bells. . . . In earlier times they had as opponents Thor and Odin; later they did battle with mighty saints . . . and above all with Saint Olaf.

To the present day, tradition has preserved legends about fat and well-fed cattle – always black – owned by Mountain-Trolls or Jutuls [Jötnar], about Giant women with long tails which they find it impossible to conceal, and about the malice and stratagems of these beings toward mankind, whom they frequently entice to themselves into the mountains.

The Giants were skilful builders, wise and experienced in all the occult arts. When they became angry, a so-called Giant valour seized them which made their strength double what it was before. . . . [T]he Giants lived in Jotunheim or in mountains lying nearer the haunts of men.

A note on the Giants:

In the ancient Edda poem dealing with Helgi Hjorvardsson we learn of a Giantess who turned into stone at the rising of the sun. Helgi and his shipmate Atli craftily detained her in talk until morning; as the sun rose, Atli said: "Look to the East, Rimgerd, and see if Helgi has not struck you with death-runes . . . Now day is risen, and Atli has made you tarry and has put an end to your life; a laughable sea-mark you seem, standing there in the figure of a stone."

A similar story is told of the voyage of king Olaf during which he created the sound lying between Hornelen, on Bremanger, and Marøy. The king bade the cliff cleave asunder; just then a Giant woman came forward and called out to him: "Why you split my rocky wall in two?" . . . She was turned into stone. A stone stands there to this day. And there are many stones in Norway . . .

Many later legends relate how a Mountain-Troll, pursuing a human being, is overtaken by the rays of the sun and turned to stone.

Other legends deal with Trolls who have made compacts with Saint Olaf to build churches, much as the giant in a Norse story:

The Giant's powerful horse

When Midgard had been created and the gods were meditating the building of a massive stronghold as a bulwark against the Giants, a Giant smith came forward and offered to build the stronghold in a year's time if he might have the goddess Freyja, the sun [being], and the moon [being] by way of payment. But if on the first day of summer any part of the work remained undone, he was to receive no wages.

The Æsir felt secure in making such a promise, and crafty Loki urged them on. But the building proceeded more rapidly than they had thought possible; for the Giant's powerful horse, Svadilfari [Svaðilfari], during the night pulled into place stones as huge as mountains.

When only three days remained before summertide, the Giant was already busied with the castle gate, and the Æsir were growing uneasy. At no price they were prepared to surrender Freyja, the sun, and the moon. They summoned Loki and threatened him, so he promised to find a way out. He soon caused the horse Svadilfari to break loose and follow a mare into the woods, and so interrupt the work. The mason was enraged, but Thor crushed his head with his great hammer. (Retold)

The creation of the world – The giants – The Æsir – Men and women – Dwarfs – Vanir – Elves:

Aside from the Æsir, the Dwarfs, and the Giants, our forefathers peopled the universe with other supernatural beings, such as the Vanir and the Elves. To the Vanir, dwelling in Vanaheim, the direction of the forces of nature seems particularly to have been attributed. . . . Of the Elves, beings who associated preferably with men, some were good and some were evil.

Night – Day:

The divinities of day and of night were also of Giant race. The Giant Norvi had a daughter by the name of Nott (Night), who was dark and swarthy like the rest of her kindred. She was first wedded to Naglfari, with whom she had a son named Aud; later, to Anar, with whom she had a daughter named Jord, who became the wife of Odin; [1] and finally, to Delling, of the race of the Æsir, with whom she had a son named Dag (Day), who was bright and fair like his father's family. The All-Father took Night and her son Day, gave them two horses and two wagons, and stationed them aloft in the heavens, where they were to ride around the earth in alternating courses of twelve hours each. Night drives the horse known as Rimfaxi (Hrímfaxi, that is, "having a mane of rime"), and each morning the fields are bedewed with froth that drips from his bit. This horse is also called Fjorsvartnir (from fjor, "life," and svartr, "black"). Day drives Skinfaxi ("with the shining mane"); earth and sky sparkle with the light from his mane.

The forces of Nature – Ægir:

While the Æsir as major deities governed all the forces of Nature and strove to direct them in the interest of mankind, almost every natural force or element had its own indwelling divinity; this divinity, a kind of personification of the natural force or element itself, was able to set those forces in motion but unable to determine their activities wholly. Thus Njord governed the winds and guided their course, but he was not their prime mover; that function was fulfilled by the Giant Ræsvelg . . . who, sitting in the guise of an eagle at the northern confines of the heavens, produced the winds by the beating of his wings. So long as the rude powers of Nature are left to themselves, their activities are rather harmful than beneficent, for which reason it is no wonder that our fathers commonly regarded these elementary divinities as Giants; for it was distinctly characteristic of the Giants that they were seldom on good terms with the Æsir.

Who are served by gnomes and other beings of folklore?

A simple question: Film makers may earn lots of money on folklore beings like the bogeyman. The eminent Steven Spielberg might be one. And less clear-cut, perhaps, so could many who listen to apt stories about the bogeyman or read about him and form mental images of it. Parents and teachers who capture the attention of the dear ones by a tale or three, gets goodwill if a good scare is sought for and the scaring is not overtaxing the human id (libido, life zest, and so on). A loose ranking-order: Tales are at best performed in friendly ways in a cosy setting, as by the bedside, next told, and then read by the child.



Once I played ◦Grieg's Morning Mood Segovia style in a tiny forest in Germany. Neighbours came to and - as far as I recall - offered me money for leaving. Moods as well as money can affect people for good or bad or in other ways.

The German concept of Stimmung, 'mood', means an internal and external state, subjective and objective, which involves attunements. Some can be subtle. The German term stands for both individual and collective moods.

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) was a German philosopher and widely acknowledged for his contributions to phenomenology and existentialism, and he writes of Stimmungen among other subjects:

A human being who - as we say - is in good humour brings a lively atmosphere with them. Do they, in so doing, bring about an emotional experience which is then transmitted to others, in the manner in which infectious germs wander back and forth from one organism to another? We do indeed say that mood is infectious. Or another human being is with us, someone who through their manner of being makes everything depressing and puts a damper on everything: nobody steps out of their shell. What does this tell us? Moods are not side-effects, but are something which in advance determine our being with one another. It seems as though a mood is in each case already there, so to speak, like an atmosphere in which we first immerse ourselves in each case and which then attunes us through and through. (in The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics 1995, 66-67)

In the quotation above the German philosopher talks of moods and persons. He does not take into accounts the mood swings of manic-depressive persons or the often winning but harsh ways of psychopaths that are known by their "fruits" after bringing others lots of problems. Norse gods did not foresee the effects of having bad Loke among them. A false friend may also hide much fiendish scheming.

Heidegger goes into moods of places also, and thereby shows a view akin to what a clairvoyant Old Norse woman and poets voiced on giants as the essences of natural forces (above). The Norse volva was a female shaman and seeress. A famous Edda poem, Voluspá, means "The Volva's Prophesy". It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end. Further, on moods, atmospheres:

Perhaps . . . what we call feeling or mood, here and in similar instances, is more reasonable - that is, more intelligently perceptive - because more open to Being than all that reason which, having meanwhile become ratio, was misinterpreted as being rational. (Heidegger cited in Krell 1993, 151)

Matthew Ratcliffe:

I suggest that Heidegger's conception of mood is highly plausible, but . . . an adequate phenomenological treatment of mood will need to do more than just clarify and further develop Heidegger‘s ideas. (2013, 1)

Heidegger on moods of locations:

The relation between being and human being, or, as we might also understand the matter, between place and human being, is itself addressed largely through the exploration of the more fully developed concept of 'dwelling' . . . [that is] not simply determined by mortals. Mortals build, . . . but building is itself founded in dwelling, while dwelling is itself based in the prior belonging of mortals to [what] also encompasses earth, sky, and gods, and so in a prior belonging to world and to place. (Malpas 2012, chap. 5. towards the end, ca. p. 111)

Christopher Tilley points out more about the philosophical significance of place, such as, "the meanings of space always involve a subjective dimension and cannot be understood apart from the symbolically constructed lifeworlds of social actors . . . Spaces and places relationally constitute wider contexts for social practices-landscapes (1994, 11, 22)."

Also: "Ingold argues that 'the cultural construction of the environment is not so much a prelude to practical action as an (optional) epilogue' and 'culture is a framework not for perceiving the world, but for interpreting it, to oneself and others' (Ibid, 23)."

Further, "the contemporary term 'landscape' is highly ideological. Cosgrove and Daniels define landscape as 'a cultural image, a pictorial way of representing, structuring or symbolising surroundings' (Ibid, 24).

The spirit of a place may be held to reside in a landscape. Familiarity with the land, being able to read and decode its signs allows individuals to know 'how to go on' at a practical level of consciousness or one that may be discursively formulated. People routinely draw on their stocks of knowledge of the landscape and the locales in which they act to give meaning, assurance and significance to their lives. The place acts dialectically so as to create the people who are of that place. These qualities of locales and landscapes give rise to a feeling of belonging and rootedness and a familiarity, which is not born just out of knowledge, but of concern that provides ontological security. They give rise to a power to act and a power to relate that is both liberating and productive. (Ibid 26) . . .

Human activities become inscribed within a landscape such that every cliff, large tree, stream, swampy area becomes a familiar place. Daily passages through the landscape become biographic encounters for individuals, recalling traces of past activities and previous events and the reading of signs - a split log here, a marker stone there. (Ibid 27)

Heidegger used many abstract terms:

The concept of place stands in an essential relation to a number of other concepts that also play important roles in Heidegger's work and in Western philosophical thinking more generally - concepts of ground, limit, unity, position, organism, space, time, and world. (Malpas 2012, 6)

However, Heidegger objected to being "too" detached from daily experience, and infused some meanings into soaring abstracts to make better sense of some of them, against what we may term "abstract estrangement." So in his final, third stage as a writer he can seem idiosyncratic to a casual reader. Adam Sharr explains for example, "Heidegger found the notion of object inadequate: too abstract, too pretentious, too detached from daily experience. In contrast, a thing, for him, gained its characteristics from use: what it was like to hold; and how it related humans to the world around them. A thing was part of human being, not an abstract realm, always already there before people tried to think about it. (Sharr 2007, 30)

To sum up a bit: People are marked by moods and mood swings. Heidegger and others hold that places in nature have their moods, Stimmungen too. And Peter A. Munch asserts that in the Old Norse poetry, subtle forces in nature and otherwise are beings, could get pregnant, multiply, get killed, and had a history, each. Myths are stories that could address such events by long shots, or they seek to explain phenomena that are not all material. Or real beings and tellings about them blend and gets coloured by minds of humans. Or there is something else "out there". Or maybe 'and' is better than 'or' in many places here . . .

Stories about gods, goddesses, giants and other otherworldly entities, their mates and offspring tend to change over time. Greek myths and legends come in several variants, and so do Norse myths. There is that "element" to consider too.

One might think that highly poetic stories of "embodied, communicating forces" are of the past only, but that is not the case. In Scotland some persons have given rise to a vital alternative community, Findhorn, in part by books where persons tell of certain meetings and events that involve otherworldly beings, like the god Pan, flower angels, and much else.

Called Impossible, but Happening all the Same?

Heidegger's interpretation of being began with the simple fact that humans are. To him, this was the first question of philosophy. (Sharr 2007, 27)

Some humans spend most of their lives in buildings or sheds. When a named architect writes about spirit of place, genius loci, he responds to Heidegger notions of dwelling and place, Sharr opens the book with. (2007, 1). Yet the term has far deeper roots than contemporary ones. In classical Roman religion, a genius loci (plural genii loci) was the protective spirit of a place. In contemporary usage, genius loci usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere, or a "spirit of place", rather than necessarily a guardian spirit. (WP, "Genius loci")

Dorothy Maclean speaks of many angels, or devas. The Landscape Angel has a prominent place in her To Hear the Angels Sing (2008). She tells she had learnt to commune with spirits or angels, through attuning to one or several of them. The Landscape Angel told her much, she tells. A few extracts:

The Pea Deva was the first to come into my awareness. The second . . . was a being overlighting that particular geographical area. I called it the Landscape Angel. I was told it would answer general questions concerning the soil at first, and later it would act as envoy for the whole angelic world. . . . it was actually the local representative of Gaia. (Maclean 2008, 41)

Sharr, further:

What did this troubling philosopher say, then, about architecture? Why have so many architects listened? Heidegger['s] standpoint on architecture [forms] part of a broader critique of the technocratic Western world. In a post-war era when Westerners seemed to justify their actions with increasing reference to economic and technical statistics, he pleaded that the immediacies of human experience shouldn't be forgotten. According to him, people make sense first through their inhabitation of their surroundings, and their emotional responses to them. Only then do they attempt to quantify their attitudes and actions through science and technology. . . . [So] the primary trade of architects is arguably in human experience. For the philosopher, building configures physically, over time, how people measure their place in the world. can help to centre people in the world. It can offer individuals places from which to inquire for themselves. Heidegger felt that this was how architecture had been understood in the past, and that the insatiable rise of technology had obscured that understanding. (2007, 2-3)

There is no good reason to be obscured and reductionistic and say "Giants are projections only, but the Christian God and such angels are not." Neurotics may glide into a bit cramped or reductionistic thinking. Therefore, it is sound to keep an eye open to the hitherto unexpected, like visitors from space - If we lack good proof that they do not exist, we are not really scientific in dismissing them as "57 sorts of impossible visitors from space" and so on (WP "List of reported UFO sightings")

UFOs and encounters with aliens appear in urban folklore also. Is there smoke without fire? Have several US presidents been crazy for reporting UFOs they saw? If we lack good evidence for or against a phenomenon, we could do well to keep our mouths shut about it and look for data meanwhile.

There is a possibility that many tiny creatures of folklore that humans inhabit nature with, are strange projections of the minds of human. Or they are a mixture of projections and fine forces. Or they are accurately perceived leprachauns and other fairies by sensitive Irish people and others. If fine forces have a centre, an essential core, they are beings. The same idea applied to humans: We like to think we are perceiving centres of our perceived worlds.

Soulful humans are gods, maintains the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. When the material consciousness fades by going to sleep, a human is not aware of much from the outside but have vivid dreams. The dreams reveal us; there is such a "danger", says Carl Gustav Jung and others. Dream interpretation is an old metier, known from ancient Egypt and other countries and cultures. We tend to dream about every 1 1/2 hour, during REM sleep. Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung were occupied with interpreting dreams, and some parts of such methods may apply to myths and folk tales as well.

Fine forces inside humans find their forms through dreamwork, and maybe through id-projections onto landscapes in the form of giants or trolls, gods and so on. There is a rich medley of folkloric being. Gods and Christian angels are hoped to be good, at least some of them.

There are other ways to look at folklore beings and otherworldly beings in religions. Some ways could be more rewarding than others.

Explain or explain away or some middle course

There are two main ways to explain or explain away folklore beings. There is also ground between those two poles apart. Two avenues stand out:

1. In step with Norse thinking, they are personifications of nature's finer forces, felt as Stimmungen, moods, and further. (Munch 1981, 72, 81-86.) Munch's finer forces of nature - identified as trolls and other beings - may be understood as shapes of fluid energy-fields in forms too.

2. They may also be taken to be figurative, metaphoric, and even projections of problems that people grapple with on deeper mind-levels.

To enlarge on that a little:

  1. If landscape moods intertwine with negative projections, the fancied beings may be termed wicked.

  2. If landscape moods go together with a medley of negative, positive and other feelings, the folkloric beings are fairly tolerable - and may reflect on guys also.

  3. If landscape moods mingle with positive projections or feelings, fancied beings may be called good for folks, and the folks as well . . .

Back to the question of who profit from gnomes and nixes and similar beings. Some write books about them, others make cartoons and so on. Stories about them easily capture the imagination of children, young folks and adults, and may help in making story-makers well liked too.

To get a wider range of views, Wikipedia articles may do some good. There are articles named "Fairy", "Neck (water spirit)", "Gnome", "Mermaid" "Leprachaun", "Pixie", "Nymph", "Sylph", "Huldra", and much else along this line, for in folklore too, mystical beings abound. If you ask, "Only there?" then consider movies with spectres in them, and also consider how far actors "on the screen" are simulated light dots with added soundtracks - simulacra (likenesses, similarities in a word by the French philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard (1929–2007). (WP, "Simulacrum"; "Jean Baudrillard")

Beings Found in Folklore

Birgit Hertzberg Kaare is a professor emerita at the Department of Media and Communication, at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo. Humour has been one of the subjects she has researched. She writes about supernatural beings in the Norwegian tradition. Here are abstracts:

Many of the legends are connected with the sea. There are many about the sea monster . . . Otherwise there are tales about various creatures of the sea, the most common being about the sea ghost, Draugen (the draug). He is considered to be the ghost of someone who has drowned or the personification of all who have died at sea. Draugen is [very often] described as a headless fisherman dressed in oilskins. He sails the seas in half a boat and wails when someone is about to drown.

In inland lakes and rivers lives the river sprite or Nixie. He tries to lure people into the water with him. Like the draug, he also gives warning of when someone is about to drown. He represents what is dangerous and unpleasant about water . . .

Norwegian traditions contain legends about the spirit which plays the fiddle, the fossegrim, who lives in waterfalls and can teach would-be fiddlers how to play.

Great numbers of mythical creatures inhabit the mountains and forests, and legends about landmarks created by troll exist all over the country. Sometimes the trolls themselves remain standing in stone.

The pixies, (haugfolket), or the subterraneans, (dei underjordiske), undoubtedly play the biggest role in Norwegian legend. They consist of a large group of supernatural beings (vetter). They have many names . . . Legend has it that these people are the descendants of the children that Eve hid from God . . . Another legend tells that those who live underground were angels that the Lord had expelled from paradise.

Those who live underground are usually considered as being of a lesser order than humankind, and they are envious of the people who are able to live out in the sunlight (i solheimen). They are often smaller than humans, and dress in blue or grey. Their world is much like the world of humans . . . they live underground or inside mountains, and many legends tell how one can hear them from inside the mountain or about coming across them above ground, seeing their flocks or similar stories. Henrik Ibsen used material from such legends in his "Peer Gynt". The huldre-people can enter into our world and so can the things they own . . .

Of the house spirits which follow the clan or the farm, the gnomelike nisse is the focus of a rich tradition of stories. He fights nisser from other farms . . . [◦Link]

To derive as much benefit as possible from tales of supernatural, human-resembling beings of folklore, one may consider how far they represent deeper urges of many humans. At any rate one is free to interpret them figuratively, or as emblems of libido.

Two ways of projected imagery:

  1. The creatures in the woods are deep urges or desires in the mind.
  2. The creatures in the sea are similar urges or desires in the deep waters of the mind.

As for nature vibes that are perceived and given shapes and characteristics as in dreams, are they as real as a sensitive person? How people present supernatural beings may change with time. It happens to gods as well. And if it happens, is it because people change, or the gods or supernatural beings change and are ranked differently, or for some other reasons? What do the creatures of folklore express or give vent to? Libidinous urges and ways of wish-fulfilment of various kinds, and more too. If they represent common, human id and some traditional ways of dealing with it, the alluring wood siren, the hulder, represents erotic attraction fairly often, because young sirens are presented as attractive females. Norwegian hulders, however, have a cow's tail, which they seek to hide in meetings with humans. Moreover, hulders in Norway have a hollow back in many tales, but not all of them. Suggestions:

  • A hollow back spells not substantial enough to count.

  • The cow's tail means something animalistic is involved, possibly repressions, and so on. The expression "Thinking with one's behind (buttocks)" - (projecting, etc.) reminds of low-levelled mental functioning anyhow.

These are not absolute truths or verities; only suggestions to follow up tentatively, ad lib. In some legends the hulder is stout and able-bodied, a fine wife and mother - so people did not conceive of these being in the same ways in places far apart. Or sirens differ - and so further. At least people differ. Take that into account too.

What is more, the folklore of such beings goes a long way back in history. Sirens appear in Homer's Odyssey. It is a poem from the 9th or 8th century BCE.

Sirens and other freaked-out, dangerous beings, like nixies and the like, are rather often made use of for substantial entertainment nowadays, such as in movies. In earlier times they might have served control and development. Some tales can still do. (Brudal 1984). You may say, "Who cannot deal with the trolls of his mind, is not so very smart," for example adding: "Don't go near the water's edge, or the nix may get you," may have serves as a child-attuned scare or a way of reducing the risk of drowning.

And the main thing is to enjoy oneself. - Then go on to see things better, clearer, if that can be done and appeals to you - genuinely, that is.

Some Stories

The Draug

In more recent Scandinavian folklore, the draug is a sea creature and a sign of trouble at sea. The word, Draugen,, comes from Norse "draugr", ghost. Draugen is supposed to be the ghost of a man who died at sea. If so, there might be tens of thousands of draugs in the sea off the coast of Norway - huge and monster-like, rowing in half-boats and erupting terrible screams when they appear, drowning sailors and fishermen, and sinking their boats and ships.

There is a story of a man who once ran from Draugen and into a churchyard, where he shouted for the spirits of the dead to protect him. The day after, all the graves were open, and the churchyard was covered in seaweed.

It was Christmas Eve, and Ola went down to his boathouse to get the keg of brandy he had bought for the holidays. When he got in, he noticed a draug sitting on the keg, staring out to sea. Ola, with great presence of mind and great bravery (it might not be amiss to state that he already had done some drinking), tiptoed up behind the draug and struck him sharply in the small of the back, so that he went flying out through the window, with sparks hissing around him as he hit the water. Ola knew he had no time to lose, so he set off at a great rate, running through the churchyard which lay between his home and the boathouse. As he ran, he cried, "Up, all you Christian souls, and help me!"

Then he heard the sound of fighting between the ghosts and the draugr, who were battling each other with coffin boards and bunches of seaweed.

The next morning, when people came to church, the whole yard was strewn with coffin covers, boat boards, and seaweed. After the fight, which the ghosts won, the draugr never came back to that district. [◦ A source]

The origin of the tale is French ◦The Golden Legend (Legenda Aurea) is a very comprehensive collection of legends. It was likely compiled around the year 1260 by Jacobus de Voragine. It was widely read in late medieval Europe. The text was added to over the centuries.

In the medieval collection, the legend (above) takes place in Paris, and was told to make people remember their departed ones in their prayers. The legends is found in other places and with the same motif and moral, such as Hildesheim in Germany and Durham in England.

The Neck

In Scandinavia, water lilies are called "nix roses". The neck, nix, nicor, nixie or nokken is a water spirit in Germanic mythology and folklore. The German Nix and his Scandinavian counterparts are males. The German Nixe is a female river mermaid. Nokken lives in fresh-water, lakes and deep ponds, it is said, and usually appears in the shape of some other creature. In the Norwegian tradition he is portrayed as a monster with his eyes just above the surface, watching as people go by (picture above). In Swedish tradition, he is a beautiful, young man who drowns women. He can change into a white horse, letting young people ride on his back, and then jumping with them back into the water. He is also said to be a talented musician.

The brook horse

Long ago, a pretty, big and strong girl worked as a maid on a farm. She was ploughing with the farm horse on one of the fields by a lake. It was springtime and beautiful weather. The birds chirped and the wagtails flitted and picked worms in the tracks of the horse.

All of a sudden a big and beautiful horse came out of the lake. His beautiful mane fluttered in the wind and his tail trailed on the ground. The horse pranced for the girl. The girl, however, thought that it was the brook horse and ignored it.

The brook horse came closer. At last he was so close that he could bite the farm horse in the mane. The girl hit the brook horse with the bridle and cried:

"Get away, you scoundrel, or you'll have to plough so you'll never forget it."

As soon as she had said this, the brook horse had switched places with the farm horse, and the brook horse started ploughing the field with such speed that soil and stones whirled in its wake. The girl hung like a mitten from the plough. Faster than the cock could crows three hundred times, the ploughing was finished. The brook horse headed for the lake, dragging both the plough and the girl with him. But the girl had a piece of steel in her pocket and made a special sign with it. All of a sudden she fell down on the ground and saw the brook horse disappear into the lake with the plough. She heard a frustrated neighing when the brook horse understood that his trick had failed. (Retold from WP, "Neck [water spirit]")


Fossegrimmen, or just Grim (Foss is Norwegian for Waterfall) is a water-creature. He is a young, handsome man who sits naked under waterfalls, playing the fiddle and is said to teach humans how to play - but for a fee and not for free. They have to give him a food offering - for example smoked mutton - for his lessons. He plays the music of nature itself; the sound of the water, the wind in the trees. - that is, he use the overtones in nature, and they are found in Pentatonic scales as well, and very typically form folk music. If Grim thinks the offering is good enough, the pupil will be able to play so well that "the trees shall dance and torrents stand still in their fall".

The fossegrim is related to the neck or nixie, but is associated with rivers and particularly with waterfalls (foss in Norwegian) and mill races. He has been associated with the kvernknurr, a mill spirit.

Torgeir Augundsson (1801–1872), better known as Myllarguten, was a famous fiddle-player from Telemark, Norway. The violinist Ole Bull made him well known in his time. Myllarguten played so well that it was rumoured he had sold his soul for Fossegrimen's skills. The rumours have not been confirmed by any Fossegrim we know of.


Findhorn Folks

Some speculate about attunement to finer, subtler or higher levels or forces or beings of existence, write what they think, and it is termed philosophy for the lack of hard evidence. Others learn to attune to them and let those beings communicate how it is. What they tell, is transposed into English by those they communicate with - or another language, or a dialect - and written down. It is called channelling, or why not philosophy, all for the lack of much and substantial evidence. But then, again, there is the growing Findhorn Garden . . . and what grew out of it in due time.

In 1957 Peter and Eileen Caddy were appointed to manage the Cluny Hill Hotel near Forres in north Scotland. In the early 1960s, Caddy and other 'channelers' believed that they were in contact with extraterrestrials through telepathy, and prepared a "landing strip" for flying saucers at nearby Cluny Hill. In late 1962, following concerns by the hotel's owners over the adverse publicity, Peter was fired.

In November that year, Peter and Eileen Caddy settled in a caravan at Findhorn Bay near the village of Findhorn. In early 1963 an annexe was built so that findhorn.html#dorothy-maclean">Dorothy Maclean could come and live close to them at the place.

They grew their own food, and were publicly recognised for producing "exceptionally large vegetables". Peter Caddy travelled in British New Age circles and met Robert Ogilvie Crombie (ROC); Sir George Trevelyan and others. David Spangler (1945-) helped turning Findhorn into a centre of residential spiritual education with a permanent staff of over 100, and the setting up of the Findhorn Foundation in 1972, registered as a Scottish charitable trust.

Peter Caddy died in a car crash since. Eileen Caddy remained at Findhorn, and in 2004 was appointed as a member of the Order of the British Empire. Dorothy Maclean returned to Findhorn in 2009 to live there, after years in North America.

◦Findhorn Foundation Home Page (also: WP, "Findhorn Foundation")


The Sanskrit word 'deva', literally: shining one, is explained thus by Karel Werner (2005): "deva, (cf. Lat. deus) god; a category of beings inhabiting the celestial planes of existence (devaloka), with a hierarchical structure which is not rigidly determined, so that the status and function of individual gods may undergo many variations; the expression is also often used for nature spirits, living in trees and other natural habitats."

They are also understood as exalted intelligences of Truth, Wisdom and Love, on the higher planes . . . concerned with the higher emotions . . . " Angel is also a translation of the term 'deva'. (In Maclean 2008, 59?)

At Findhorn, devas (angels) were said to cooperate and have produced astounding vegetables as a result of following up of deva advice.


Yes, I talk with angels, great Beings whose lives infuse and create all of Nature. In another time and culture I might have been cloistered . . . In our skeptical time and culture, such a claim is more likely to be met with scoffing disbelief or as the ramblings of a dreamy female. . .

To learn to talk with angels is really learning to talk with ourselves and with each other in new and profoundly deeper ways.

I maintain that any of us can talk with angels. (Ibid., 1-2, passim)

The devas . . . . too, are learning and changing, and they say devic and human destinies merge. They hold the archetypal patterns of our planet in a sort of inner energy stream of divinity. (Ibid., 58)

The first characteristic . . . about the angels of the plants was their wonderful feeling of lightness, in the sense of being free and unburdened. . . .

The second characteristic . . . was that these beings knew what I was thinking. . . . They knew what was in my mind and so I didn't have to spend a long time phrasing questions for them. They also know our motives; we cannot fool them. Theirs . . . is an ever-fresh knowing, a pure intelligence, which includes a certain pre-knowledge, such as knowing the broad lines of the processes of evolution.

The devas are immensely powerful. (Ibid., 58)

Dorothy once wrote ideas she got while attuning her mind to Night:

Humans commune with me [The Spirit of Night] in unconscious sleep, but rarely do it consciously. Yet what a great gift I bring to you all! Were it not for night time oblivion, which is a rhythm of your worldly life, you would be conscious of your ever present problems, and that would be too much altogether for you. Renewal, conscious and unconscious, comes when I come, and with it much that you take for granted. That does not matter: it is sufficient we all fit in the plan of things. Nevertheless, l find a certain joy in having a listening ear. Part of you still does not really believe in me, but the part that does thereby contributes to the oneness of life. . . . What a superior concept is the old idea of a spirit . . .

[W]ith my cloak I cover up each little yesterday for each of you. In me you find rest, and when you leave me you go with new life, life whose wrinkles I have ironed out while you were in my care. . . . Thank God, for me, for sleep, for life, and respect more the processes of which you are a part. Let us all give thanks. (Ibid., 71)

At this point someone should ask: "What if I sleep by day, as cats and shift workers may do? Will it be the Spirit of Day that helps in cases like that? Or what about the afternoon naps? Can a Spirit of Afternoon be of help?"

A pertinent question may be appreciated, but three of them? It depends, I suppose. But after all, sleep researchers verify much of these rather common-sense pieces of advice about sleep. There is a list of books on the subject at the bottom of another page: [On sound sleep].

Well, what about Sun Beings. The Sun Beings may balance the Spirit of Night in many places, but not so well up north. There the nights and the Northern Lights reign for months on end, and the midnight sun though summer months. And on very cloudy days, what then?


A Sun Being (could it be Apollo?) illumined my consciousness with a message:

"Child of Light, seek the light because you are light. . . . I touch you with my fingers from millions of miles away . . ." (Ibid., 70)

The Sun blesses a Pharaoh with his family: Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children in Limestone
Aton blesses a family. The rays end in hands -

Compare how the Sun, Aton, is portrayed with hands that bless the ancient king Akhenaton and his family.

Here is something to consider: (1) It takes sunlight an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel from the Sun to the Earth. To get a blessing ray that started out from the sun eight minutes ago, you would need to stay put that long, as when sunbathing. (2) And then again, the Sun is not just the great ball of fire at a distance in the sky; it is also a magnetic field that penetrates the Earth and further still. It means we "are in the magnetic Sun field by day and by night, and by that the Sun thus 'knows what is going on', even when it does not hit by sun strokes and further. (3) Also, it might well be that many rays from the sun have it in them to bless us or harm us and that there may not be much selectivity in it on the part of the sun. It says you could get nicely and healthily tanned by moving in the sun at fit times and as long as is good for you each time." Shield yourself from the harmful rays, get benefits from the others. Filter well. I should say the last of the three listed points suits us best.

Dorothy again:

[A]nother Sun being:

"We reach out and intelligently draw your planet to the one scheme of things. Unity is being showered upon your world as never before, and we reach and serve on many levels in this same purpose. We would give you a glimpse of our beneficence, embracing all, and consciously directed at mankind."

There is no end to these beings. (Ibid., 71)

Dorothy, further:

To my great surprise, after five years of almost daily contact with beings of the angelic world, I realized with joy, excitement and awe that the mythological gods of Greece were members of the angelic world (Ibid., 67).

She was also told that "every age interprets life according to its own preconceptions and motives, projecting its own emotional imbalances on reality." (Ibid., 68)

Fine for fauns

How large would that ideal unsullied garden wilderness be? At least 30 m2, maybe, and for bigger gardens one undisturbed third could be fine for fauns too. Maybe every little helps also.

Or you find it best to stop mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes to side with the angels in these ways? Buddha advises, interestingly, monks (and nuns) not to cut down grass and trees. but help them and let them fulfil their lives, they too. It is not bad to keep in mind that 'Plant maltreatment' is a great concept to go into too and get laws against, and 'soil debasement' too. Mankind has to advance further - not just stop the fattening of folks, "woman maltreatment" and "animal maltreatment", but look at how plants and the soil are mismanaged too, also by "many normal gardening practices inhibit Nature's ways," as Dorothy says. We have not got an Paradise here yet, but a TM-fostered ◦Heaven on Earth could be a beneficient thing needed.

Man and trees belong together:

Great forests must flourish, and man must see to this if he wishes to continue to live on this planet. . . We are, indeed, the skin of the earth, and a skin not only covers and protects, but passes through it the forces of fife. - Leylands cypress Deva (Ibid., 108)

Tree devas in the Sierras or by Mount Lassen in California said to Dorothy:

[W]e are not in harmony with the part of mankind which rapes the land, and nowhere is the cleft between us more recently pronounced than in areas of ancient trees now being thoughtlessly felled. (Ibid., 111)


[W]ith a dearth of mature trees, the peace and stability of mankind is affected . . . we destroy ourselves when we destroy the trees. (Ibid., 111)

Regarding trees and humans: Man and woman have "sap" in them: they are made from trees, in Norse mythology, and not a Biblical, dusty soil or in part a rib either. &AEsir "brought to life sentient beings as well, both men and animals. The first human pair, Ask and Embla, they created from two trees. Odin gave them breath, Vili gave them soul or understanding, and Ve (Lodur) gave them bodily warmth and color. From these two sprang the entire race of men." (P. A. Munch. Norse Mythology: Myths of the Gods:)

Not the only one

Richard St. Barbe Baker (1889–1982) was an English forester, environmental activist and author. He contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts. He founded an organisation, Men of the Trees, still active today as the International Tree Foundation. It carries out reforestation internationally. Dorothy:

Richard St. Barbe Baker visited Findhorn. St. Barbe was the . . . writer of many books on trees, including 'Sahara Conquest.' His untiring and life-long work with trees throughout the world (he was over 80) had brought him to the same views as expressed by the angelic world, although his approach had been scientific and practical. (Ibid., 107)

Tree angels were deeply thankful for what he had done, Dorothy writes they said. (Ibid., 108) Baker himself writes that

ancients believed that the Earth itself is a sentient being and feels the behavior of mankind upon it. As we have no scientific proof to the contrary, I submit that we accept at this and behave accordingly. (In Maclean 2008, 108)

In the larger picture

"Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organised life," wrote Immanuel Kant. There are many sides to science and scientific. Dorothy writes of a cultured gentleman from Edinburgh "with a scientific background." He "saw and communicated with little beings such as fauns."

In 1966 we made the acquaintance of R. Ogilvie Crombie, a cultured elderly gentleman from Edinburgh with a scientific background and broad interests. Almost immediately Ogilvie, for the first time in his life, began experiencing a relationship with Nature forces on a different level of the Nature kingdom. He saw and communicated with little beings such as fauns, fairies and elves, and the god Pan. . . . Ogilvie's little beings . . . could get angry. (Ibid., 50)

Ogilvie gleaned from his contacts that every garden should have a wild area which humans left alone and undisturbed for the nature spirits. (Ibid. 50)

Faun in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Some stories of encounters with elves and other beings, like Pan, are found in The Findhorn Garden Story (2008).

Once in March 1966, in the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, while seated under a tall beech tree, Robert Ogilvie Crombie (ROC) (1899–1975) saw a three feet tall figure dancing round a tree. A faun, the Greek mythological being, half human, half animal. He had two little horns on his forehead. His shaggy legs ended in cloven hooves.

For a moment ROC wondered if perhaps he was a boy made up for a school show. But all the same he began to watch the little being with delight. ROC tells:

He danced over to where I was sitting, stood looking at me for a moment and then sat cross-legged in front of me. I looked at him. He was very real. I bent forward and said: "Hallo".

He leapt to his feet, startled, and stared at me. "Can you see me? . . . What am I like?"

I described him as I saw him. . . . he began to dance round in small circles. 'What am I doing?'

I told him.

He stopped dancing and said. "You must be seeing me."

He danced across to the seat beside me, sat down and, turning towards me, looked up and said, "Why are human beings so stupid?"

He told ROC his work was to help the growth of trees.

"If you humans think you can get along without us, just try!"

His name was Kurmos, he said. ROC asked him if he could visit him.

"Yes, if you invite me."

"Then I'll come now."

In ROC's flat was a fairly large collection of books. Kurmos showed great interest. What were they and why so many? ROC explained to him that they contained facts, ideas, speculations and theories, accounts of past events, stories invented by the writers and so on, all of which were written down, put into print and made up into books which could be read by others. His comment was:

"Why? You can get all the knowledge you want by simply wanting it."

Meeting Pan in Edinburgh

The meetings with Kurmos were followed by something more unusual at the end of April. One evening after eleven o'clock ROC was walking homeward down Edinburgh's main thoroughfare. As he turned a corner he stepped into an extraordinary "atmosphere."

It was as if I had no clothes on and was walking through a medium denser than air but not as dense as water. I could feel it against my body. It produced a sensation of warmth and tingling like a mixture of pins and needles and an electric shock. This was accompanied by a heightened awareness and the same feeling of expectation I had had in the Gardens before meeting Kurmos.

Then I realized that I was not alone. A figure - taller than myself - was walking beside me. It was a faun, radiating a tremendous power. I glanced at him. . . . We walked on. He turned and looked at me.

"Well, aren't you afraid of me?"


"Do you know who I am?"

I did at that moment. "You are the great god Pan."

ROC asked him where his pan-pipes were.

He smiled at the question:

"I do have them, you know."

And there he was, holding them between his hands. He began to play a curious melody. I had heard it in woods before and so far I have been unable to remember it afterwards.

ROC was feeling reasonably certain that neither of these beings was imaginary.

(Source of both stories: Findhorn Community 2008, 103-110, passim - Literature references are at the bottom of the page.)

Crazy Man Michael

A song performed by Fairport Convention

Within the fire and out upon the sea
Crazy Man Michael was walking.
He met with a raven with eyes black as coals,
And shortly they were a-talking:
"Your future, your future I will tell to you.
Your future you often have asked me.
Your true love will die by your own right hand,
And crazy man Michael will cursed be."

Michael he ranted . . .
"Is she not the fairest in all the broad land?
Your sorcerer's words are to taunt me."

He took out his dagger of fire and of steel
And struck down the raven.
[Michael:] "O where is the raven that I struck?
I see . . . my true love with a wound so red."

Crazy Man Michael he wanders and calls,
And talks to the night and the day-o.

The song tells of a ◦one Michael who killed his love when she was a talking raven. He regretted killing her like that, talked to the day and night and became a gardener.

Glimpses of Gaia, forest angels, plant devas, Dorothy Maclean, Martin Heidegger thought, Norse godesses and other beings, creatures of folklore, the Landscape Angel and Findhorn in Scotland, some cceatures of folklore, Draug, Neck, Fossegrim, the draug, Kraken, gnomelike trolls, Literature  

Brudal, Paul. 1984. Det ubevisste språket. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. ⍽▢⍽ The first part of Brudal's book, "The Unconscious Language", shows how aggressive and destructive feelings in children may be lived out on a non-dangerous fantasy level through listening to apt folk tales with a happy ending. The psychologist author next goes into research and theories on folk tales from folklore, psychology and psychiatry.

Bø, Olav, et al, eds. 1982. Norske eventyr. Oslo: Det Norske Samlaget.

Findhorn Community, the. 2008. The Findhorn Garden Story. 4th ed. Findhorn Press.

Heidegger, Martin. 1977. The Fundamental Concepts of Philosophy. Edited by David Farrell Krell. New York: Harper and Row

Heidegger, Martin. 1993. Basic Writings from Being and Time (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1964). Ed. David Farrell Krell. New York: Harper and Row.

Jung, Carl G., main ed. 1964. Man and His Symbols. New York: Anchor Books.

Jung, Carl G. 1974. Dreams. Tr. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen / Princeton University Press.

Jung, Carl G. 1995. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. London: Fontana.

Knapp, Bettina L. 2003. French Fairy Tales : A Jungian Approach. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Maclean, Dorothy. 2008. To Hear the Angels Sing: An Odyssey of Co-Creation with the Devic Kingdom. 5th Lorian ed. Everett, WA: Lorian Press.

Malpas, Jeff. 2012. Heidegger and the Thinking of Place: Explorations in the Topology of Being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Munch, Peter Andreas. 1981. Norrøne gude- og heltesagn. Rev. ed. by Anne Holtsmark. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Ratcliffe, Matthew. 2013. Why mood matters. In M. A. Wrathall, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger's Being and Time. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 157–176.

Sharr, Alan. 2007. Heidegger for Architects. London: Routledge / Tailor and Francis.

Tilley, Christopher. 1994. A Phenomenology of Landscape Places, Paths and Monuments. Oxford: Berg Publishers.

von Franz, Marie-Louise. 1980. The Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairytales: Studies in Jungian Psychology. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Werner, Karel. 2005. A Popular Dictionary of Hinduism. London: Francis and Taylor.

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