Bytting – Changelings
A child was swapped with one of the ”unseen” children. This could happen if you did not take certain precautions after the child was born and before it was baptized. When it was baptized it was safe. You could for example, put a knife in the boys bed and a pair of scissors in the girl’s. You could put a hymn book with them and / or you should make sure to add a glow in the water unbaptized children was washed in.
If your child was replaced, it was easy to recognize. It would be screaming with a terrible voice, it would eat a lot without growing. It was only the head that would grow. ”Big head and little sense” as it says in a legend. It would not be able to speak or walk, at least not when others were there. It would be deformed and ugly and just sitting and rocking in a chair.
Once the damage was done, there were certain things one could do. First, one could try to reveal the changeling so that it would leave by itself. You could leave it alone and see what it was doing, or you could try to do amazing things to make the changeling talk. For example, to make soup in an egg cup, could make the changeling say something like: «I have lived in 7 generations and never have I seen ……»
Otherwise, one could bother the changeling untill the ”unseen” people would come and take it back, and preferably return the proper child. This would be like going into the woods and beat the child three Thursday evenings in a row. Put it on the floor and sweep garbage over it or take a scorching pair of pliers and pinch them in the nose.
There are legends of changelings who remained and who lived on the same farm for several generations.
”Deildegast” – directly translated it means ”Stoneghost”. I do not know the english name of it.
This is a strange phenomenon. According to wikipedia the name derives from the German word «Geist» meaning spirit and deilder is a name for the boundary stones. And these touch the subject. So this is a ghost coming back because they in their life moved border stones or boundary markers to make their own property larger.
The ghost is trying to move the stones back, they can roll a stone up a hill only to see it roll down again (yes, this we know from a Greek myth). They will only get peace when someone places the stone in place for them. Sometimes they looks like a bird. But what is most striking with them, is their sound. They laugh and cry.
Djevel – Devil
A popular theme in folklore, a character with many norwegian names: hinmannen, Eirik, Erik the old, ugly man, the evil, himself and puken. The characteristic of him is his foot like a horse. There are mainly three situations in which he appears.
The first is associated with witches. Then he would write in a book brought to their meetings, in the book he notes down all the names of the witches.
The second situation is that he has been conjured out of ”the black book” or Svarteboka as it is called in Norwegian, mostly by accident. Then he has to be given a task he can not finish, like empty a sea or count the hairs on a man’s legs, and it is only a priest that is able to summon him away again, then he is weeping and gnashing his teeth.
The third situation is that he appears when people are playing cards, where he tends to sit under a table. There is however also a few legends about how he appears to dance where sailors meet.
Dragedokka – Could be translated to pulling doll.
This is a strange creature from Norwegian folklore. A doll that fetch wealth to their chosen owner. There are primarily two different descriptions of how it looked like. Some legends describe it as a doll made of rags and given life to by a woman with help of little blood. Others describe it as small and furry, like a mouse.
The clever ones could bring wealth from 7 parishes. When it was not working, it sat maybe in a living room on a chest and was shivering as if she were cold. It did not like to be at rest and an owner of such creature was always rich. Some legends say that she put money in her owner’s shoes. They laughed when they were asked to work, except when they were sent to sea. Then they cried.
Drage – dragon
In the legends I have read I have come across only three legends about dragons. One of the legends says that a dragon was shot in 1631 in Norway. There are dragons described as something with a long tail. All three legends say that dragons ”spat” fire, they were flying at night and usually at times before war or plagues.
One of the legends calls it the «Troll Dragon», this had two heads, ragged mane and was red around the eyes.The dragon lived also in the sea so it might as well be called a sea monster (coming later).
Dragfe / Dragsø – impossible to translate
These are just some few legends about. They ”invisible for the eye” and were about around weddings as an indication of how the marriage would be. Was there a summer wedding, it would appear as a movement in the grass. Moved it towards the wedding, it was a good sign. At winter, if there was «something» that came into the room, this was also a good sign.
Continued next Thursday.
FAscinating. I’m enjoying your description of Norwegian legendary charcters 🙂