Mare or Mara, Maru, Mora found in Scandinavian, Slavic and German folklore is taken from Nattamara (nightmare). It is a vicious female spirit that visits folks while they sleep at night. The Mare will sit and ride upon ones chest making it very uncomfortable for breathing inducing frightening nightmares to their victims.
One tale The Mare is written in the Norse Ynglinga Saga 1225 CE by Snorri Sturluson.
King Vanlandi Sveigðisson of Uppsala 1164 ( a Swedish city North of Stockholm)
Legend mentions that he perished from a midnight ride of The Mare on his chest that caused such a monstrous nightmare the king was literally scared to death! The Mare was summoned by the Finnish Sorceress Hulda, who in turn was employed by King Vanlandi’s discarded wife Drifa. The King promised Drifa he would return home to her after three years. After ten years the neglected wife hired Hulda to bring back the King or kill him. Vanlandi fell asleep when he began whining that the nightmare “rode him,” his men held the King’s head it began to “trod on his legs!” breaking them. The Mare seized his feet and finally pressed too hard on his head causing death.
Sources & References:
- Alaric Hall, ‘The Evidence for Maran, the Anglo-Saxon “Nightmares,” Neophilologus, 91 2007
- Grimm, Jacob (1883), Google Books “XVII. Wights and Elves“, Teutonic Mythology, 2, James Steven Stallybrass (tr.), W. Swan Sonnenschein & Allen, pp. 439–517
- Featured art The Nightmare, a variation, by Fuseli (1790-91) Public Domain
- Illustration The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli, 1781 Public Domain