Up in Guddalen there lived a man who was a shapeshifter, and this is the clear truth and no lie, I have heard it from a man who laid on the road to town. –The man’s name was even Time Kolstad, and was, as one may guess, a bit strange. One could never feel safe that he would not get disarrayed; yes even his wife was not safe. The farm lies on a shadowed place beneath the mountain, so there is something unpleasant about it, and many a thing must dwell there. When Kolstad got disarrayed, he turned into a bear and wrung his eyes, so it was chilling to see. He often encountered that when they were outside raking in the summer. All of a sudden, when they were loading the haystack, he started wandering around sniffing. He wanted blood, and looked at them with such chilling eyes that they had to hurry away. He had told his wife – he meant her no harm – but when she saw he was about to turn, she should turn her clothes back and forth and sit on the haystack.* It was hard for the wife, she grieved over this, but did not know what to do, for no one but Kolstad knew were the “hamen” was hidden.**
In the winter nights in the moonlight, you better believe he went outside. When he was sitting in the living room, he could say: “Oh, now it would be fun to play with the goats over on the hill.” And play with them he did; over in the mountain they made a dank trail where he had killed fourteen goats. When he returned home, he sat plucking flocks of wool from his teeth. One time when he was gone, his wife found the “hamen” that he had hidden under the barn bridge. She sent notice to the neighbors if they would come help her burn it, luckily, they were both delighted and happy that they would get rid of this vileness. But just as they were about to burn it, Kolstad came home, and he was so furious that twelve men had to hold him. As the “hamen” burned, his strength decreased, and when it was all burned up, the man was completely weakened. “Why did you do this!” he said to his wife, “now I will never have a day of health again”, and he never did…
Translated from: Norsk Folkedikting III, Segner
*According to old folklore the bear shapeshifter would usually become shameful if a woman exposed herself to him.
**I could not find a suitable translation for the word “hamen”. Hamløypar=Shapeshifter. When the “ham” or “hamen” is put on, he changes shape/appearance.
There was a man called Bratten, and he was so incredibly good at fishing that every time he threw the bait in the water, the fish would bite.
One time he went on a trip up into the mountain. Then he came to a small pond that lay out in a mountain marsh. He had never heard that anyone had caught any fish there; but as soon as he had thrown into the water, he caught a trout. Such a whopper he had never seen before. He spat in God’s name down its throat, he always did this with the first fish he caught. As soon as he set bait and threw it back out in the water, he caught another fish, and so he continued until he had a basket full of fish.
Then he started walking back home. But the further he went, the lighter his basket got. He found this strange, for the basket was new, and had no holes in it. He got utterly astonished when he put it down and saw that there was nothing but one fish left.
He said nothing to his wife; but when it verged on non* the second day, he could not resist – he had to go fishing again. And the fish were biting just as well as the day before. As he got them out of the water, he tied them on an osier, for he wanted to see how it was he lost them. But on his way home, the trouts vanished, one after the other; and he could not see where they had gone. He slowly realized that it was the haugfolk** that begrudged him the fish. And he also understood that they were there, taking the fish from him. But he was angry because he did now understand how they took it.
So he went off to the Stedje-church with his basket, and filled it with consecrated soil and went back to the pond again in one trip. When he arrived, he scattered a ring of church soil all around the pond, and then went back home. Midsummer evening he went back up into the mountains. He wanted to see how the situation was now. As soon as he got to the pond, he heard such an awful crying. It was the haugfolk, and when they spotted him they took off their hat so they became visible and screamed and shouted: “Badly you have done, Christian man, you blocked the pond for us.” “Worse you have done – you took the fish that I had caught,” replied Bratten. “The pond is ours, and the fish is ours, as close as the first; the one you spat down the throat of and uttered Christian words to. But if you will give us just a small opening in the ring of soil, then you can fish as much as you want.” Bratten did as they asked of him, and scraped off the soil in one spot so they could pass through – just like in the fencing on a farm. But first the haugfolk had to promise that they would not cast a spell on the fish, so it would get unwilling to bite or unseasonable, and that they would not do any other tricks to him. Since that time he became good friends with the haugfolk, and fished as much as he wanted through all his days.
*Non is an old term used on a meal that is eaten around 3 PM.
**Haugfolk/haugafolk (directly translated to: mound/hill people) were creatures that lived in mounds, rocks and underground, but looked almost like normal people.
Translated from: Norsk Folkedikting III, Segner
In the old days, anyone who wanted to become outstanding at playing the fiddle, had to get the fossegrim to teach them, or else the playing would not be very good, and they would only become lousy fiddlers.
The fossegrim was a water creature who dwelled under a waterfall, preferably by a mill, and there he sometimes played tricks on the millers, and sometimes he would play so beautiful that people would become completely enchanted when they heard his song. Sometimes he would play lively songs, but other times he played his fiddle with such a weeping sound that those who heard it had to cry. He also had the manner that he could change with the mood he was in. If he was upset, he would come out of the water as such a horrid creation that people would get absolutely terrified.
There was a man who went to the mill one evening, and at that mill no one should be around or let the mill run after the dark, because the fossegrim would get angry when they disturbed his night’s rest. The man was warned of this, but he did not care, his only thought was to get his flour finished. When the night came, he heard big seeps in the water, and then there came some big spouts against the wall. After a while the door was thrown open, and the man saw a big skull that filled the entire doorway and the cheeks fell close to the door frames. His eyes were as big as table plates, and his mouth was pitch black. The troll stood there for a while, looked around and gaped and budged his skull. Then it said: “But there was a skull, man.” The man got so terrified that he did not know what to do with himself, and he would have tried to get out, but the door was held shut, so he had to stand there the whole night. Sometimes the mill would shake back and forth like a sieve, and sometimes the millstone got held still, and in between full fists of flour blew straight in his eyes. At the break of day he was finally released and were about to leap up a hill, but in the same instance he got one of his flour bags right on his neck, so he plunged down on the road. He got back on his feet again and started running. Then he heard the fossegrim shouting: “Unscathed you are this time, but if you come back more often, then maybe you will have a bone broken, that can remind you that you annoyed me.”
This is how the fossegrim behaved when he was enraged, but he acted differently when he was treated like he wanted. He was very fond of cured meat, and when they threw him some, he would soon appear on a stone out in the river with his fiddle, and played as long as the piece of meat was big and good for. If someone wanted to learn to play from him, they had to bring a piece of mutton, and throw it over to the waterfall. After a while the man would appear, shooting like an arrow up on a rock with his fiddle. His hair was long and thick and so yellow that it looked like gold. His nose and mouth was suitable and well made, and his eyes shone and were as bright as dwarf stones. His hands were small and white, and his fingers went so fast that one could not see them when he was playing. First he would string the fiddle and then he would play it, sometimes so loud that it would echo, and sometimes low and nice, and so he would continue until the person who had thrown the meat piece had learned. Afterwards he dived back in the water and disappeared. If he got a puny piece, then the person who gave it to him would not become much of a fiddler, but if the piece was big and fat, he would become better, and if someone were so generous to throw him a grand goat leg, they would become an exceptional fiddler.
Once there was a miser who wanted to learn how to play, but he did not grant a meat limb for the fossegrim. He wanted to go to the waterfall without one, but others advised against it, because they knew the fossegrim would not teach anyone without a reward. So the man went to look at his meat, but all limbs he thought to be too big, and none of them he could do without. Finally he took a bone where the meat was well carved off; this will have to do, he thought. He threw the bone into the water and waited a long while before he saw any waterman. Eventually he came, but not happy and jaunty, he looked cranky and diminished. Even so he started to string his fiddle, but there was no playing. The boy got somber and said: “It was playing I wanted to learn.” But the fossegrim answered:
“I’ll teach you stringing
But nothing more
For you gave me a bone
With meat so poor”
Translated from: Norsk Folkedikting III, Segner
In a summer a long, long time ago, they went to the summer pasture up in the mountains with the cattle from Melbustad in Haland. But they had not been there long before the cattle started to act so uneasy that it was hard to control them. Many girls tried to herd them; but it did not get better until a betrothed girl came – they had recently drunk her betrothed ale. Then the cattle settled immediately, and were no trouble to herd anymore. She stayed up there alone and did not have a living being with her apart from a dog.
As she sat on the pasture one afternoon, she thought that her boyfriend came and sat down beside her and began to talk about having a wedding. But she sat there like she did not see nor hear, and did not say a thing, because she felt so strange. A while after, more and more people came, and they started to set the table with silverware and food, and bridesmaids carried in a crown and adornment and a grand wedding dress that they put on her, and the crown they put on her head, like they used to back then, and rings she got as well. Everyone who was there, she thought she knew, there were farmwives and there were girls her age.
But the dog had probably realized that something odd was happening. She went off down to Melbustad, and there she started to whimper and bark and did not leave them alone until they followed her back up the mountains.
The girl’s boyfriend then took his rifle and went up to the pasture. When he got up there, it was full of saddled horses standing around. He crept over to the house and peeped through the door opening, and then he saw all of them sitting inside. It was easy to understand that it was magic and the underworld he was dealing with, and so he fired his rifle over the roof. Straight after the door flew open, and one gray twine larger than the other came running out and simmered around his feet.
When he came inside, she sat there fully dressed for a wedding, and it was so close, that only a ring was missing on her little finger, and she would have been fully fledged.
“What on earth is going on here?” he asked. All the silverware was still on the table, but all the banquet food had turned into moss and mushrooms and cowdung and fleas and similar things.
“I ask, what is the meaning of this? Are you sitting here dressed as a bride?” he said.
“How can you ask that?” said the girl. “Have you not been sitting here and talked about weddings and marriage all afternoon?”
“No, I just arrived,” he said; “but someone must have taken my shape.”
Then she started to come to her senses. But quite right she didn’t get until a long while later, and she told that she really thought that he and the whole kinship and neighbors had been there. He took her down to the village immediately, and then he held the wedding at once, while she still was wearing the bridal wear from the underworld, -so no more sorcery would happen to her. The crown and the wedding dress they hung up on Melbustad, and there it still hangs to this day.
Translated from: Translated from: Norsk Folkedikting III, Segner
Another water spirit was the Neck. He was a foul creature who did no good, and only wanted harm. If small children came close to the water, he drew them towards him. When he expected that someone would drown soon, he stayed at that spot a lot, and when the dusk came, he came over the water surface with his head and screamed so dreadfully that it was eerie to hear. He had long grey hair and beard, a pale face, and eyes that glowed in his skull. But he never showed himself more than from the belt up from the water.
On a farm lying lonely in a forest by a stream, the people heard the Neck coming up in a pond and scream so it echoed through the woods: “The time has come, but the man has not.” Some men then started to overlook this place and wanted to know what was going to happen. After a while a man came rushing so his sweat was pouring off him and desperately wanted across the stream. The people feared that he was the one the Neck had screamed after, and therefore they took and clutched the man; but he both cried and sobbed, because he had to get across the stream no matter how it went. They still did not release him, but the man on the farm then said that they should give him some water. If he was marked for death, he would die from it, but if he was not, then it would not harm him. They did as instructed, and as soon as the man had taken a sip from the water, he fell on the ground dead. It turned out that the Neck had predicted right.
Translated from: Norsk Folkedikting III, Segner
Edvard Munch - Winter in Kragero (1912)
TV commercial for Grandiosa Kebabpizza (a very popular brand of frozen pizza in Norway)
Love this traditional stuff :)