It is noted in the “Landnamabok” that all ships approaching Iceland were ordered to remove the Dragon Head Prowes from their ships to keep from frightening or offending the Landvaettir.
This shows just how much our ancestors thought of these “Hidden Folk.” In fact, their customs and folklore surrounding these beings was one of the few things that survived the Xtian conversions nearly intact. Of course, the stories changed with the times. No longer was it the mighty thewed warrior who sailed forth to vanquish an evil troll. No, it was the scrawny, self-righteous Preacher ringing bells and bawling Latin scriptures that did the job. Personally, who could blame them? I think that I would rather face the warrior’s sword then put up with that kind of annoying racket any day. But as hard as they tried, the Church wasn’t very successful in chasing away the Land Spirits.
Instead they became creatures of Children’s Stories. “Things that no real God-fearing person would take seriously.” Oh really? That’s why even today there are farms that will leave a patch of their crop unharvested in the field. Or why some roads curve well around a certain outcropping of rock. Or why some people leave out offerings of food and drink especially around Yule. Cookies and milk for the jolly ole elf? How many bribe off the goblins and spooks with sweet treats each Halloween night?
Once again we can thank our ancestors for hanging on to their “quaint and simple” traditions of continuing to honor the Land Spirits - no matter how distorted these tradition may have become today. For without them, I’m sure the Hulda Folk would have given up on us entirely a long time ago. And old Mother Earth would surely be in a lot worst shape (an us along with Her) than She is now.
So who are these Land Spirits, and what do they look like?
The Land Spirits have many names and have a vast number of descriptions. We know them by a number of names: elves, faeries, gnomes, dwarves, trolls and giants; just to name a few. Not surprisingly, they are found in every culture and in every part of the world. Some attach themselves to people, others to a particular piece of land (i.e.: a group of rocks, or trees, or a home). They are even harder to describe in detail, for most can change their form at will (is that rock really a rock; and is that butterfly really just a butterfly?). Their looks don’t always reflect their attitudes. Much like us Humans, their dispositions vary from the gentle, kind-hearted spirits, to the mischievous and then to the down right nasty and evil. Even a kindly one can become annoyed if mistreated or abused, and will start pulling pranks (or sometimes I believe just out of plain old boredom). So it doesn’t hurt to stay on their good sides - the benefits they give in return can be truly wonderful.
So how do we stay on their good side?
said, they usually don’t ask for much; just a fairly quite corner
in a backyard garden, or a out of the way place in the home or even the garage. Ya, some of them do like to tinker with our autos. Most seem to prefer more natural surroundings with plants, rocks and trees. If you live in an apartment, don’t panic! Even a small planter can make for a cozy home. Oh, and if you decide to move, be sure to let them know. They will decide for themselves whether to come along with, or if the next tenants will need them more.
An occasional simple offering can go a long way as well. We have found that the ones living around here seem to prefer ale, or milk sweetened with honey, and some sort of sweet treat. Usually home-baked goodies; but if your not a cook, store-bought maybe the safer way to go.
There is an old custom my wife taught our children and has never seemed to fail. When something turns up missing, (the other shoe, a toy, or what have you) they turn a glass upside-down, and ask the fey to help find it. Then go look again. Sure enough, it turns up in that one spot that has been searched a hundred times. If that doesn’t work, try a cookie - sometimes they are up to a trade.
“A house blessed by the Hulda Folk,
is a house truly blessed!”
If you have stories of your encounters with, or customs regarding the Hulda Folk that you would like to share; send them along. We would like to hear them.