Huldra/skogsrå, The Scandinavian Goddesses

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What I’ve always been wishing is to meet a fairy in the woods or forest! At this very moment, I might be excited but never feared. And I have ever had a preference for the Scandinavian countries. Therefore, when I found this fascinating Fairy, Nymph or Goddess from there, I began to dream. 😉

Huldra’s Nymphs (the title given to the work in the list of illustrations on page vii). A black-and-white reproduction of a painting, showing an idyllic scene with two female beings near a small stream.
By Bernard Evans Ward – Guerber, H. A. (Hélène Adeline) (1909). Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas. London : Harrap. This illustration facing page 58. Digitized by the Internet Archive and available from https://archive.org/details/mythsofthenorsem00gueruoft Some simple image processing by User:Haukurth, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4754177

Skogsrå, Råndan or Huldran. (lit. ’the Forest ‘) is a mythical female creature of the forest in Swedish folklore. It appears in the form of a small, beautiful woman with a seemingly friendly temperament. She appears like a woman from the front but seen from behind she often has a hollow back and a tail.

A Skogsrå meeting a man, as portrayed by artist Per Daniel Holm in the 1882 book Svenska folksägner
By Per Daniel Holm (1835-1903) – From ‘Svenska folksägner’, Herman Hofberg (1882), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=300172

A hulder (or huldra) is a seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore. Her name derives from a root meaning “covered” or “secret”. … She is known as the skogsrå “forest spirit” or Tallemaja “pine tree Mary” in Swedish folklore, and ulda in Sámi folklore. Her name suggests that she is originally the same being as the völva (Germanic paganism, a seeress) divine figure Huld and the German Holda (Frau Holle by the Brothers Grimm)

Goldmarie aus dem Märchen “Frau Holle” illustration by Hermann Vogel (1854-1921)

The hulders were held to be kind to charcoal burners, watching their charcoal kilns while they rested. Knowing that she would wake them if there were any problems. They were able to sleep, and in exchange, the humans left provisions for them in a special place. A tale from Närke illustrates further how kind a hulder could be, especially if treated with respect. (Hellström 1985:15).

Origin: A tale recounts how a woman had washed only half of her children when God came to her cottage; ashamed of the dirty ones, she hid them. God decreed that those she had hidden from him would be hidden from humanity; they became the hulders. (Isn’t it fascinating? I love Folklore!)

Anyhow, when you are lost in the woods, just call them!

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skogsr%C3%A5

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulder

6 thoughts on “Huldra/skogsrå, The Scandinavian Goddesses

  1. A fascinating read! Thank you for sharing this post about them Aladin. I’ve never met these beautiful forest creatures before in a story or folktale, if so, I’ve forgotten all about them. A quick search bought up this dark wood poem all about the Huldra’s:

    Huldra’s Wood

    When early springtime’s night winds sing
    around the steaming cattle byre,
    and smoke curls high through wicker slats
    above the dancing Great Hall fire;
    Old women pull the children near,
    with knowing looks well understood;
    Tonight only a fool would stray
    within the groves of Huldra’s Wood.

    As daylight leaves the greening fields
    and sunset paints the pale sky gold,
    As far horizons fade to blue
    and nightingales sing shrill and cold;
    The adder in his hide curls safe
    from those who seek his serpent’s blood,
    he sleeps within the old stone cairn
    that marks the edge of Huldra’sWood.

    Above us rides the scar-faced Moon
    amongst the stars in wanton haste,
    whilst in the trees the tawny owls
    cry shuddering across the waste
    that separates our steading from
    the Elfhane Host in cap and hood;
    they frolic now, unbidden, deep
    within the groves of Huldra’s Wood.

    © Alan Hodgson

    Liked by 2 people

  2. elainemansfield

    Thank you for introducing me to these beings and the great images. I sometimes feel like a forest creature and the world here is full of mushrooms and moss right now. I laugh imagining myself with a white tail.

    Liked by 2 people

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