Forest Creatures In Scandinavian Folklore

An Elf Dancing In the Forest

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Heading back to the old school

After meeting all the creature, we headed back to the old school, where we hade parked our car.
After meeting all the creature, we headed back to the old school, where we hade parked our car. | Source

Creatures In the Forest In Western Finland

Where I live, on the West coast of Finland, people have been telling stories about different creatures in the forest for centuries. Some creatures are small, some are bigger and they all have their missions and a meaning to the people, the humans. These creatures are different figures from the folklore in western Finland and a part of the scandinavian folklore. People should be aware of these creatures, because you never know who you'll meet in the forest. Only some decades ago this was a fact.

When I was twelve years old, me and my class mates went to an old school, where we were going to spend two days and one night filled with adventures. The old school building is situated next to a small lake and close to a river. It's a beautiful place surrounded by the Finnish forest. This is not far from where I lived then and live today.

On this little trip, we did most of the activities outdoors, like solving problems in groups and canoing on the river. It was very fun and rememberable. Now, more than 20 years later, I can still recall this trip. The most exciting thing was the night before we went to bed. We were all sitting outside at a campfire, and a man, who lived on the other side of the lake, was there to tell us about all creatures living in the forest that surrounded us. It was getting dark and a little chilly. His stories would make it even more chilly. Our imaginations where running wild, and not many of us had enough sleep that night. We were just 12 year old children, and of course scared to death by the stories about all different cratures around us.


Outdoor Exhibition

Some artist living here in western Finland, have now made forest creatures and placed them in the forest near the old school to show them to people, like an outdoor exhibition in the forest. They want to make sure people today don't forget about these creatures that once were so important to people around here. They are placed along a beautiful walking trail. Finns love walking trails. When you walk half a mile on this trail, you can see all these creatures. Just the other day, I took my family with me to this same place again. We walked a mile to see the following creatures I'm going to tell you about. Their names are in Swedish and I've tried to find some of their names in English. Some creatures only have their Swedish names. Sometimes these creatures also have different names here in Scandinavia depending on from which area they are. Please folllow me on my enchanted adventure with forest creatures from the Scandinavian folklore.

The River

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"Skogsrået"/The Siren of the Woods

First, when we started our walk, we met a big fox and next to him ”Skogsrået” stood. You could also call her Siren of the woods or forest woman. In Swedish her name is also "Huldra". Whatever you'd prefer to call her, she's a very beautiful and beautifully dressed woman if you see her from the front, facing towards you. If you see her from behind she's either hollow or her back is a rotten tree trunk.The siren of the woods shows herself to men and lures them into the woods. She can then rob them of their intellect. The story says that sometimes she used to show herself to lumbermen, and they were obsessed by her beauty, and they then started following her through the woods. When they finally would catch her, she would turned her back on them and disappear. Then the lumbermen would realize they were lost, and these stories often had a bad ending.


The siren of the woods can be nice to people, who don't want to do her any harm. You can offer her a piece of your packed lunch, which will give you good hunting. Her mission is to watch over the animals of the forest.


The Siren of the Woods

She's a beautiful woman.
She's a beautiful woman. | Source

Raamt

”Raamt” is a ghostly and unpleasant creature. He's an evil being, who shows himself to people and almost scares them to death. Many children, who grew up here around often heard the warning ”Watch out for Raamt!”. He could show up in a grain house, in the forest or in another place where children shouldn't be. Many times there have been stories told about something big, dark and unpleasant following you, like a perception. In the old Norse language there's the word ”rammr”, which means ”a hand with extending fingers”. I'm not sure you can find Raamt in any other area of Scandinavia. He seems to exist only here on the west coast of Finland.

Raamt

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Vättar and Vittror

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”Vättar and Vittror”

Vättar and vittror are small creatures living alongside with the humans. They are also called the invisibles. Vättar and vittror look like and are dressed like humans, and they are mortal just like people. They live a life in peace and they don't make noices nor do they quarrel. They live under the ground, under tree roots and under house bases, and even in the mountains. In the world of vättar and vittror, everything is upside down. Left is right and right is left. It says that vättar and vittror can show themselves to humans in the form of ants, and they can even live in anthills. If you pour hot water on them, they will become furious. They will get even more furious if someone urinates on them. To avoid these things, people have special rooms for defecating, so called outhouses.

The Underground Beings

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"De Underjordiska"/The Underground Beings

These beings or creatures live underground, and they are almost similar to vättar and vittror. The underground beings look like humans. Humans see their world reversed. These beings can be evil and lure humans into the underground, where the humans will get lost. Sometimes the underground beings come up to steal things from humans.

"Älvor"/Elves

Älvor are elves or sprites, who according to the Finnish folk tradition, can be and look very different from each other. They can be white or black, good or evil, male or female, beautiful or ugly. They can also have traits of garden goblins in them, because some elves have earlier married garden goblins and they have gotten children together. The elves like to entertain themselves and they often dance until morning light. During winter, elves hibernate and they wake up when the first snow starts melting. They won't leave their burrows until the risk of night frost is over and the wood anemones have bloomed.


According to the Swedish folk tradition, elves are described as beautiful white dressed female creatures, and most beautiful is the elf queen with her crown. An elf shuns the daylight and if she doesn't reaturn home before the sun rises, she turns into a ”daystander”. That means she will remain standing invisible somewhere, for example on a road.

Elves

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Siren and His Wife Mielikki

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”Rådare”/The Siren

"Rådare" or a siren is someone, who have control over different objects. He can also watch over the border between two farms. He is like a spririt watching over things. Also garden goblins can count a sirens.


The siren is often described as a gruff, tall man that rarely shows himself to people. Accoording to stories, one siren contacted his farmer and told him to make seven knives and place them somewhere, where the farmer could get paid for the knives. The knives were meant to be used in fights between the sirens of the woods and the sirens of the farms. According to traditions, these sirens can fight so hard that the forest lakes start boiling. Sirens do not hurt people, but in case they get insulted, they can cause truoble.

Mielikki, the Wife of the Siren

According to the Finnish tradition, Meilikki is a female married to the siren. She takes care of the chores in the forest, cleans and decorates. She's also a good healer. Hunters should be on good terms vid Mielikki, which will give them good hunting.



On The Walking Trail

We were on our way to meet the siren and the neck.
We were on our way to meet the siren and the neck. | Source

"Näcken"/The Water Spirit/The Neck

The Neck is a mythical creature that you can find by rivers, rapids, water sources and bridges. Its mission is to protect these places. He's a male sitting and playing the violing, but he can also be seen in many other different shapes. He can look like a young, beautiful man luring people into water, where he drowns them. Adults have for a long time told children about The Neck to keep them away from water.

The Neck

The Neck almost had me falling into the river playing his beautiful melody on his violin.
The Neck almost had me falling into the river playing his beautiful melody on his violin. | Source

Sjörået/The Siren of the Sea/The Mermaid

The Mermaid is a female creature in Nordic folklore. She watched over the lake or the river that belonged to her territory. Just like the siren of the woods, the mermaid is a seductive creature. She often shows herself to lonely men in her vicinity. You can see her sitting on a stone, combing her long hair. To avoid getting spellbound by her, you should throw a fishing knife in front of her, and she'll disappear.

The mermaid has cattle grazing on the shore. These can look like perches and pikes, and if you catsch a fish it can be the mermaid's cow. Then you'd better let go of the fish again - for your own safety.

The Mermaid

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More Creatures ...

There was a little girl sitting under the roof of a grillhouse.
There was a little girl sitting under the roof of a grillhouse. | Source
I found this little man sitting at a tree.
I found this little man sitting at a tree. | Source
On the way to this brdge, we had met all the creature and it was time to go back.
On the way to this brdge, we had met all the creature and it was time to go back. | Source
I could have joined these small people under their umbrella. They looked friendly.
I could have joined these small people under their umbrella. They looked friendly. | Source
This beautiful woman almost lured my husband into the woods. Look at her looking at him with her seductive eyes.
This beautiful woman almost lured my husband into the woods. Look at her looking at him with her seductive eyes. | Source
A huge mayfly was sitting on a tree.
A huge mayfly was sitting on a tree. | Source

Many More Creatures

There are many more creatures in Scandinavian folklore, but these are the most common creatures in western Finland. Below there's a link to another of my hubs and a video, where you'll see Ronia meet wild imps. They sure are scary!

I hope you liked meeting these creatures as much as I did. Remember to watch out for Raamt!

Ronia And Her Friend Birk Meeting "Vildvittror"/Wild Imps

More by this Author


32 comments

diesmiling profile image

diesmiling 3 years ago from Philippines

OMG, this feels like heaven . I wanna go there . :)


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

He diesmiling, it isn't really heaven, but probably very close if you like odd creatures and spending time in nature. Thank you for stopping by! :)


MysticMoonlight 3 years ago

Love this Hub! Thank you for sharing these mysterious yet intriguing creatures and their myths/legends with us, very interesting!


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi MysticMoonlight, I'm glad you liked this hub. I like these creatures, and I think I'll go there to meet them again soon. Thank you!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love the creatures in the woods. We actually have something like this a few miles out of town, an enchanted forest with creatures lurking in the shadows of tall pines and firs. Very cool indeed.

I loved the pictures. All that was missing was a picture of my favorite Finnish writer....Made! :)


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Bill, you have your own enchanted forest?! That's great! I took many pictures that day and I really liked spending time in the woods with my family and creepy creatures. I love taking pictures, but this hub is fine without me on one! Thank you so much! Have a nice Sunday!


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I wasn't acquainted with all these creatures! I did not realize there were so many wonderful and scary critters in Finland... not so many in Canada...but I think they may be lurking in forests here as well ( maybe they immigrated?)

Charming hub, Made...loved every bit of it.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Made, this is such a fun and interesting hub. It seems the women of lore were just as treacherous as many women of today can be!

I really enjoyed this. Thanx for sharing your folklore with us.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Made, this is simply enchanting!...Those tales from long ago, probably prevented many children from wandering off and getting lost in the forest. They feed the imagination, and like fairy tales there were always a practical element to them. A wonderful hub, thank you for sharing.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Scribenet, they might have immigrated, LOL! I'm really glad you liked these creatures and this hub. Thank you so much!


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Thank you bravewarrior, I'm interested in folklore, but I have never written a hub about it before. MaybeI'll write more hubs about something similar. I'm glad you stopped by to read yet one of my hubs. :)


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi tobusiness, I guess people needed these stories to protect children and people working in the woods. I'm really glad you liked it. Thank you so much! :)


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

What a fascinating article! I thoroughly enjoyed it and absolutely loved your images. Thank you for sharing! (Voted Up). -Rose


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi rose-the planner, I'm really glad you found this hub fascinating. Thank you so much!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

First, I would love to visit Findland as the pictures are beautiful. I loved the story of the forest creatures. I can just see the group of 12 years-olds telling scary stories in the woods. Those are precious memories. I enjoyed this hub immensely. Voted up awesome and shared.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Pamela, nice to see you stop by again to read one of my hubs. I really enjoyed this place and I'm probably going back there soon again. It's a very peaceful place - even with scary creatures. Thank you so much!


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Incredible layout of photos here and I have learned so much here about Forest Creatures In Scandinavian Folklore, a unique idea for a hub and well appreciated for this information


Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Great hub, Made! The Scandinavian folklore is a fascinating subject and your tour to the enchanted forest was amazing.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi DDE, I like taking pictures and I also like reading hubs with many pictures. Nice to hear that you liked this hub. Thank you so much! :)


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Elias Zanetti, it sure is fascinating. Thank you and have a nice day!


just-about 3 years ago

What an amazing place to visit - the models of the forest creatures are so lvoeny with their knitted hats and picnics. I love anything to do with folkore and I think it is underrated in the modern day. History, georgraphy, language customs etc are always looked at when exploring a new culture - but folkore, with its origins in the depths of time before written records, is just as important as those other factors. I think it touches something very deep within us - and for a modern artist to have been moved enough to depict the forest folk with these models is very appropriate.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi just-about. I think folklore is underrated, too. People here on the countryside, where I live, live pretty close to nature, and these creatures were so important to them not too long ago. I love learning about people and their lives. History is important, but folklore is more down to earth. Thank you so much! :)


W1totalk profile image

W1totalk 3 years ago

This was cool. Thank you.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

I'm glad you liked it, W1totalk. Thank you!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Wow - what a magical walk. I love all the different characters and it looks like you had a beautiful day too. Interesting that there are many similar characters in folklore around the world.


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi Glimmer Twin Fan, it was magical. The characters are probably similar to each other around the world. Thank you for stopping by. :)


CarolynEmerick profile image

CarolynEmerick 3 years ago

Oh I just love this! I am very interested in Scandinavian folklore and mythology, and especially elves! I will share this on Facebook ;-)


Made profile image

Made 3 years ago from Finland Author

Hi CarolynEmerick, I'm so glad you liked and shared this. Thank you!!


Pollyanna Jones profile image

Pollyanna Jones 22 months ago from United Kingdom

This is a terrific read, and I love the photos and creatures that have been made. I've shared this about as much as I can. Voted up.


Olgerda 22 months ago

In Ukrainian folklore, the creature extremely similar to Skogsraet (the Siren of the Woods) is called Mavka. She also lives in the woods, and her back is open, so that you can her rotten insides (yuck!) when you look at her from behind, although the back is usually covered with long hair. She is believed to be the spirit of the forest and, sometimes, a spirit of an unbaptized child. In summer, Mavki (for there is more than one) enjoy weaving crowns out of flowers and playing in the woods, luring men to dance with them. They are generally harmless, although Carpathian Navka may also suck human blood like a vampire. Sometimes, villagers explained diseases like tuberculosis with Mavka sucking on the nipples of the sick person at night, sucking the life force out.


Made profile image

Made 22 months ago from Finland Author

Hi Pollyanna Jones, I really appreciate your comment and sharing. I have to say I'm very fascinated by these creatures. Thanks!


Made profile image

Made 22 months ago from Finland Author

Olgerda, how interesting! There seem to be many simliarities between skogsrået and Mavka. I'm really glad you stopped by and left an interesting comment. Thank you.

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