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The Rider's Hole - evil spirits of the marsh

Updated on December 12, 2016
Eva Weggelaar profile image

Eva Weggelaar is a writer and translator, especially interested in poetry and folklore. She also runs her own blog: Paradise is this Way.


The Horseman's Tale

One evening, a lonely horseman was riding up hill, down hill. For a moment the pale pink of the setting sun glowed between the trunks of the trees, then all turned twilight-grey. The big night-bird flew over the forest, spreading its black wings wide. The grey of twilight turned to black, darkness settled among the trees, as silent as the grave... In that silence the trunks stood quiet and still, like bent down giants carrying the heavy secret of the night. In the darkness, the regular, lonely gallop of the strange rider could be heard. Old people still recall that he was a Frenchman.

Near a bend in the road he saw a glimmer of light. It glowed as kindly as if it came from a hospitable homestead, where simple people would provide him with a safe haven for the night. He made towards it, but the horse stood still, snorting in fear.
Now that the sound of the pounding hooves had settled, silence pressed upon the scene.
The strange rider patted the neck of the horse and spoke to it softly. But the horse stood as if rooted to the spot, putting back its ears. The light shimmered luringly between the trees. Then the rider spurred on his horse. With one shy spurt it jumped ahead. A muted splash of the sucking quicksand, a cry and a fearful call for help; but there wasn’t a soul for miles around to hear it.
The rider looked around for the light. It had disappeared. The evil spirits living beneath the surface of the bog quickly pulled the horse and its rider into the depths. One more muffled cry, and then silence descended over the forest again, black and never-ending, the old giants bent down even deeper than before, as if carrying an immense burden.

Years later, a sabre and the skeletons of the strange rider and his horse were dredged up.
But he who travels along the silent gravel road from Hoog Soeren to Wiesel, which runs past the Rider’s Hole, can sometimes see a small light winking between the trees and hear a cry, like an echo from days long past.

From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar


Dutch Water Spirits

The neck, nicor, nixie or nokken (German: Nixe, Dutch: nikker, nekker, Norwegian: nøkk, Swedish: näck, Finnish: näkki, Estonian: näkk) are shapeshifting water spirits in Germanic mythology and folklore who usually appeared in forms of other creatures.
Near marshes and brooks, in rivers and canals: where there is water, there's a Nekker. Sometimes, they try to lure you into the depths by mimicking the sound of a crying child. Other times, they tempt you with little glimmering lights, and when you bend down too deeply over the edge of a well, they might suddenly drag you into it.


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    • Eva Weggelaar profile image

      Eva Weggelaar 19 months ago

      Thank you!

    • Aishi Chakraborty profile image

      Trisha Chakrabory 19 months ago from India