Mythical Creatures in Writing, Part VI.
Beautiful and tricky creatures that all men should handle with care, or risk sever punishment. Isn’t it always the way – what lures you is usually the most dangerous. The huldra has appeared in several stories by well-known authors, but there is something so dark and tempting about this creature, that I’m surprised there haven’t been more stories about them.
What is it?
Huldra is a seductive forest spirit from Norse mythology that has been known to offer rewards to those who satisfy them sexually and death to those who fail to do so. It is said the huldra are a type of troll, but much smaller.
Ability / Power
These longhaired blonde beauties lure men into the woods by their lovely singing and appearance to do their bidding or simply as mates or pets. If betrayed, the huldra are known to punish their victims severely. Ouch, you don’t want to upset this gal.
She is prone to stealing human babies and replaces them with her own child (a huldrebarn).
If she decides to marry a human man, the huldra can no longer keep her identity secret because during the marriage ceremony when a priest blesses her, the glamour leaves her revealing who she really is. Some sources say she looses her tail if she enters a church or is blessed, but her nature remains and if the man mistreates her, she will turn incredibly ugly and the man will suffer. I’d suggest guys simply stick away from this girl – it does not turn out pretty for you.
From the front, the huldra is a beautiful young woman but also has a cow’s tale and whose back appears to be like a hollowed out tree. Most men would most likely run away once they caught sight of the tail. In Sweden, the huldra is said to have the tail of a fox, which has to be better than a cow’s tail.
- Neil Gaiman‘s short story “Monarch of the Glen: An American Gods Novella” features a huldra as a main character.
- A recent Norwegian movie, Thale, revolves around a huldra. I can’t wait to get my hands on this – it looks scary good.
- In Frank Beddor’s book Seeing Redd, it briefly mentions how as Queen Redd traveled throughout the world to build an Army she was thought of in one country as being part Troll and Part Huldra.
- George MacDonald‘s book Phantastes includes a huldra-like monster, although she is never named as such, who lures the hero into her tree and entraps him so that the evil Oak can catch him. She is described as being very beautiful, but made of hollow wood from the back.
- In The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente, a character named Oubliette is a huldra.
- In Mercedes Lackey‘s novel The Snow Queen the characters Annukka and Kaari meet a group of “soulless ones” in the woods who are beautiful women with hollow backs who seduce men and kill them, resembling the huldra.
Did you know? A male version of a huldra is called a huldu.
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