The wood so softly singing
In a language strange to hear
And the song it sings will find you
As the twilight draws you near


The Huldra

Huldra by John Bauer (1882-1918)

The Huldra inhabits the lands of the North. She has the appearance of an alluring young woman but from behind sometimes a tail can be seen, or she has a hollow back of what looks like tree bark. In some stories she is friendly if approached properly and might offer advice such as where the best fishing is. In others she is dangerous, often leading young men attracted to her to horrible deaths. Elsewhere in the world similar stories are told of mermaids or beings such as Lamia. They seem to represent a deep-seated fear of the wild, of sexuality, and of otherness. At the same time there is an element of relationship here too with something we have lost but which we can still reach out to, even though it seems perilous to do so.

There is also a moral element creeping in, dictating what we should, and should not, desire. It is not so much in the darkness but in the twilight, or in the case of the Huldra, the eerie light of perpetual summer for a few months north of the Arctic Circle, in which such creatures have their being. They are part of the world that is invisible to us most of the time. But a world we can see, hear and perhaps even touch if we choose to discover the vision that will enable us to do so.