Wednesday, May 24, 2017
I grew up in the forest region of northern Sweden. As a young boy, an old female relative of mine, an aunt to my father, told me now and then of her encounters with the ‘small people’ when she was herding cattle as a herdess at the seter in the forests, especially of the beautiful Skojekare, a supernatural female whom you could see sometimes herding her small, white cattle in the forest. At the seter one also had to be aware of the ‘small people’, not to upset them and make them angry, whereupon they would leave you alone and not make life difficult for you. These were no tales told to frighten me; she had seen these supernaturals, and they were real-for her. Aunt Emma had these encounters with the ‘small people’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, when Scandinavia had been a part of Christendom for a millenium. Was she then a pagan in the twentieth century? Certainly not: She was a devoted Christian, who knew how to cut a protective, Christian cross with a knife in the wooden beam over the entrance to the cattle barn, scaring off and preventing malicious supernatural beings stealing cattle or making mischief among the naimals- and who also attended Mass in church on Sunday.
Sacred Sites and Holy Places. Exploring the Sacralization of Landscape Through Time and Space. ed. by S. Walaker Nordeide and S. Brink (Studies in Early Middle Ages 11) (Brepols 2013)
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