Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mythological Beasts: Nøkken

Asian White Water Lily (White Lotus) 
by PJ 2011 Honolulu, Hawaii

Nøkken was in norse mythology a creature of the inland waters much like Huldra was a creature of the deep forest. And like the female Huldra, that lures people into the forest and never let them go, the male Nøkken would try to lure people to the waters and drown them.

The Norse Nøkk seem to be similar to stories of water elves, also known as nymphs in other european cultures, and also carry similarities to the mermen of the seas and oceans.

The most common described way for Nøkken to lure gullible people to its watery depths is in the form of a stunningly beautiful white horse, which willingly would let especially young children climb up on its back, and then leap with them into the water.

In other legends Nøkken seeks out one person a year to drown in his fresh water ponds, where he lures using his power of invisibility, or the ability to shape-change into something unsuspecting like a floating log, a beautiful water lily or even other plant life that is making it look like the edge of the pond is farther in, so when you move over to the water to pick flowers you would fall into the deep cold, treacherous waters.

In other occasions Nøkken was said to appear as a handsome young man, playing music in the calm tranquil forest, luring young fair maidens into his watery embrace and their doom, playing the harp or fiddle he would spellbind them with his magical charm.

In order to protect yourself legends say, is by spitting and then tossing a steel needle or a steel cross into the water. Another way was to bind Nøkken to a Nøkkstein (Nøkken rock) and then let it drop into the water directly vertically from as high up as you could get it, if you have already been grabbed by Nøkken and is about to be pulled into the waters you can break free by saying his name, as in this norwegian phrase "Nøkken! Nøkken nål i vann. Jomfru Maria kastet stål i vann! Du synker, jeg flyter!" translated this becomes "Nøkken! Nøkken! needle in water. Virgin Mary tossed steel into the water! You are sinking I am floating!"

So the next time you see a floating tree stub or water lily, a beautiful white horse wandering by the outskirts of a small lake or pond or even a handsome young man fair-skinned and with blond long hair playing the harp or the fiddle next to a river or pond it just might be Nøkken himself trying to trap you as his once a year victim... beware.


Water lilies are called Nøkkerose in Norwegian, PJ 2005 Honolulu, Hawaii

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