It is another #folkloreThursday and time for a character from the Norwegian folklore.

The devil is a character with many names: “hinmannen”, Eirik, Old Erik, ugly man, the evil himself, “the father himself” and “puken”. The characteristic of him is his goat or horse foot. He can pop up in many situations like at a funeral, when he is called on or during a dance, still there are three situations that stand out. The first is related to witches. At the meeting of the witches, he would bring a book and he would write everyone’s name into this book.

The second situation is that he has been “called” out from “the black book” or Cyprianus as the book also was called, mostly by chance. Then one had to give him a task he could not complete, like to scoop sea to sea or count the hairs on a man’s legs, and it is udsually a priest or whoever owns “the black book” that manages to conjure him away. All this under weeping and gnashing of the teeth. The reason why “the black book” is linked to the devil also has an explanation: According to Norwegian folklore Jesus on his descent to hell bounded the devil with huge iron chains so he could not get away before anyone used a magic in “the black book”. Those who had this book could both bind and set the devil free. When the devil first arrived, he would be horrible rough and angry, and one had to immediately give him work, if not, he could be dangerous.

The third situation is that he appears during card games, here he tends often to sit under a table.

In addition, you have those who calls for the devil and sells their soul for some gains:
(Source: Kristian Bugge Folkeminneoptegnelser Et utvalg, Oslo, Norske Folkeminnelag, 1934)

It was winter in a place called Larvik, we are told. Per Tværved needed wood. He would not buy it, so he decided to go to a forest that lay on the other side of a water and retrieve it himself, meaning stealing wood. Ice lay on the water and Per went over the lake. It was a nice winter day and Per used his time. It was beautiful in the woods. But then he forgot the time and when Per had finished, it was suddenly dusk. He put the wood on his back and walked out onto the ice.

Per stumbled and went through the ice and the firewood danced across the ice, while Per struggled and cursed and swore. All that he struggled, he did not manage to come up on the ice again. Every time he took a hold of the ice edge, it bursted under him. It was far away from people, so it was no use shouting at people and finally Per though that he could pray to God, though he doubted that it would help. And whether it was because of the wood Per now had stolen or other “tricks” he had done, he was right, Lord did not come to the rescue and Per continued to struggle in the water as before.

Then he did not know any other advice but to call for the Devil and to make sure he would come, Per promised the devil his soul. The devil was not to ask twice. Per had not before said before he felt a firm grip in the pants and a grip in the coat and then he danced over the ice the same way as wood. Per gathered the wood and was about to leave the place without so much as thanks, but the devil stood beside him and he reminded Per about the promise he had given. “Do not tell me that you do not understand a joke?”, Per said. The devil had to admit that he did, he did not want to make a fool of himself, he let Per go for this time.





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