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Strömkarlen from 1884 by Ernst Josephson has formed many modern Swedes' view of Näcken.

The Scandinavian näcken, strömkarlennäck, nøkk, nøkken, strömkarl, Grim or Fosse-Grim was a male water spirit who played enchanted songs on the violin, luring women and children to drown in lakes or streams.

Etymology

The modern Scandinavian names are derived from an Old Norse nykr, meaning river horse. Thus, likely the brook horse preceded the personification of the nix as the man in the rapids.

Description

Fossegrim and derivatives were almost always portrayed as especially beautiful young men, whose clothing (or lack thereof) varied widely from story to story. Fossegrim could show himself as a man playing the violin in brooks and waterfalls but also could appear to be treasure or various floating objects or as an animal; most commonly in the form of a "brook horse".

Behavior

Not all of these spirits were necessarily malevolent; in fact, many stories exist that indicate at the very least that Fossegrim were entirely harmless to their audience and attracted not only women and children, but men as well with their sweet songs. Stories also exist wherein the Fossegrim agreed to live with a human who had fallen in love with him, but many of these stories ended with the Fossegrim returning to his home, usually a nearby waterfall or brook. Fossegrim are said to grow despondent if they do not have free, regular contact with a water source.

The enthralling music of the nix was most dangerous to women and children, especially pregnant women and unbaptised children. He was thought to be most active during Midsummer's Night, on Christmas Eve and on Thursdays.

When malicious nix attempted to carry off people, they could be defeated by calling their name; this, in fact, would be the death of them.

If you brought the nix a treat of three drops of blood, a black animal, some brännvin (Scandinavian vodka) or snus (wet snuff) dropped into the water, he would teach you his enchanting form of music.

The nix was also an omen for drowning accidents. He would scream at a particular spot in a lake or river, in a way reminiscent of the loon, and on that spot a fatality would later take place.


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If properly approached, he will teach a musician to play so adeptly "that the trees dance and waterfalls stop at his music"Sacred-Texts.com

The enthralling music of the nix was most dangerous to women and children, especially pregnant women and unbaptised children. He was thought to be most active during Midsummer's Night, on Christmas Eve and on Thursdays. However, these superstitions do not necessarily relate to all the versions listed here, and many if not all of them were developed after the Christianizing of the Northern countries, as were similar stories of faeries and other entities in other areas.

If you brought the nix a treat of three drops of blood, a black animal, some brännvin (Scandinavian vodka) or snus (wet snuff) dropped into the water, he would teach you his enchanting form of music.

The nix was also an omen for drowning accidents. He would scream at a particular spot in a lake or river, in a way reminiscent of the loon, and on that spot a fatality would later take place.

Some stories tell how the nix sings about his loneliness and his longing for salvation, which he purportedly never shall receive, as he is not "a child of God." In a poem by Swedish poet Erik Johan Stagnelius, a little boy pities the fate of the nix, and so saves his own life.


Stories

In the later Romantic folklore and folklore-inspired stories of the 19th century, the nix sings about his loneliness and his longing for salvation, which he purportedly never shall receive, as he is not "a child of God."

In a poem by Swedish poet E. J. Stagnelius, a little boy pities the fate of the nix, and so saves his own life. In the poem, arguably Stagnelius' most famous, the boy says that the Näck will never be a "child of God" which brings "tears to his face" as he "never plays again in the silvery brook."

In Scandinavia, water lilies are called "nix roses" (näckrosor/nøkkeroser). A tale from the forest of Tiveden relates of how the forest had its unique red water lilies through the intervention of the nix:

At the lake of Fagertärn, there was once a poor fisherman who had a beautiful daughter. The small lake gave little fish and the fisherman had difficulties providing for his little family. One day, as the fisherman was fishing in his little dugout of oak, he met the Nix, who offered him great catches of fish on the condition that the fisherman gave him his beautiful daughter the day she was eighteen years old. The desperate fisherman agreed and promised the Nix his daughter. The day the girl was eighteen she went down to the shore to meet the Nix. The Nix gladly asked her to walk down to his watery abode, but the girl took forth a knife and said that he would never have her alive, then stuck the knife into her heart and fell down into the lake, dead. Then, her blood coloured the water lilies red, and from that day the water lilies of some of the lake's forests are red (Karlsson 1970:86).


See also


External links


Bibliography

  • Hellström, AnneMarie. (1985). Jag vill så gärna berätta.... ISBN 91-7908-002-2
  • Karlsson, S. (1970). I Tiveden, Reflex, Mariestad.
  • Haunted, Kelly Armstrong

[[Category:Shapeshifters]