sea troll

The Sea Troll

Similar to Nøkken, but known both from inland waters and the sea, esp. in a wider European folksong tradition as a sacrificial myth (maybe dating back to prehistory) where human brides marry the Sea Troll (German Wasserman). A famous folk ballad called Agnete and the Sea Troll tells about how the sea troll disguises himself as an handsome man who comes to her home to court her. He wants to marry her immediately without waiting for her parents' permission. For unknown reasons (maybe bewitched by him) she accepts and he leads her to the shore where she (in the Nordic version of this common European story) is saved in the nick of time by a man. Elsewhere in Europe she drowns. This tale is supposed to date back to pre-Christian sacrificial traditions. Like in the stories of Nøkken/the Nix, the sea troll expects a bride or at least a human sacrifice at regular intervals. This would explain why people drown.

Woodcarving by Povl Christensen (Denmark)

Also see the sea trolls by Kaare Espolin Sørensen and Th. Kittelsen.

A related troll is the "man in the well", the "well troll" or "well nix" that was supposed to live in wells and be the cause of illnesses. In a documented court case from Denmark in the 17th century a so-called "wise woman" explained how she got money from her ill patient, went to the well, threw a rock into it to awaken the well man and then dropped some money into the dark water, so that this creature would lift the curse on her patient.

More to follow.

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