Näcken is a creature in Swedish folklore. He dwells in streams, rivers, forest lakes and swamps. If there are blooming water lilies, it is a sign that Näcken is near. If you want to go for a swim, it’s best to first stick a knife into the shore, this will protect you.
For Näcken can be quite dangerous. He often tries to drown careless bathers, or lure them down to his underwater kingdom and keep them there as his prisoners.
Näcken is an amazing fiddler. With his enchanting music, he can twist the minds of humans listening to it, so they become easy victims for him.
No matter how joyful tunes he plays, there is always something melancholic and sad about it. Maybe he’s lonely, and that’s why he repeatedly tricks humans down to his kingdom.
Näcken can appear in different shapes, he is as changing as the water he belongs to. Sometimes he looks like a young boy, and sometimes an old man. No matter which form, he’s recognizable with his long green and black hair, and eyes dark like a forest lake.
If you’re brave, you can ask Näcken for violin lessons. Then you need to go to a stream three Thursday nights in a row and play. On the third night, Näcken will appear. You have to bring a black cat, that’s what Näcken wants for payment. Be on your guard the whole time, since Näcken might decide to drown you during the lesson.
Those who survive the lesson can now play so mesmerizing that even tables and chairs start dancing!
Some melodies are more dangerous than others, and the teacher will warn his pupil about this. If the much feared tune “Horgalåten” is played, the music will affect both the fiddler and the dancers so powerfully so they can’t stop.
The dancing is so wild, so the dancers feet are soon just bleeding lumps. In some cases they keep dancing until the whole body wears down, and in the end there are just skulls jumping around. The only way to end this madness is to cut off the strings on the violin. When music is silenced, the spell is broken.
By Märta Kajsa Nyholm, Ghosts, the paranormal, myths and legends
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