Sámi Folklore: Andras Baive

Sámi Folklore: Andras Baive
Andrew Lang wrote this Sámi tale in English in The Orange Fairy Book 1906.

Once upon a time there lived in Lapland a man who was so very strong and swift of foot that nobody in his native town of Vadso could come near him if they were running races in the summer evenings. The people of Vadso were very proud of their champion, and thought that there was no one like him in the world, till, by-and-by, it came to their ears that there dwelt among the mountains a Lapp, Andras Baive by name, who was said by his friends to be even stronger and swifter than the bailiff. Of course not a creature in Vadso believed that, and declared that if it made the mountaineers happier to talk such nonsense, why, let them!

The winter was long and cold, and the thoughts of the villagers were much busier with wolves than with Andras Baive, when suddenly, on a frosty day, he made his appearance in the little town of Vadso. The bailiff was delighted at this chance of trying his strength, and at once went out to seek Andras and to coax him into giving proof of his vigour. As he walked along his eyes fell upon a big eight-oared boat that lay upon the shore, and his face shone with pleasure. ‘That is the very thing,’ laughed he, ‘I will make him jump over that boat.’ Andras was quite ready to accept the challenge, and they soon settled the terms of the wager. He who could jump over the boat without so much as touching it with his heel was to be the winner, and would get a large sum of money as the prize. So, followed by many of the villagers, the two men walked down to the sea.

An old fisherman was chosen to stand near the boat to watch fair play, and to hold the stakes, and Andras, as the stranger was told to jump first. Going back to the flag which had been stuck into the sand to mark the starting place, he ran forward, with his head well thrown back, and cleared the boat with a mighty bound. The lookers- on cheered him, and indeed he well deserve it; but they waited anxiously all the same to see what the bailiff would do. On he came, taller than Andras by several inches, but heavier of build. He too sprang high and well, but as he came down his heel just grazed the edge of the boat. Dead silence reigned amidst the townsfolk, but Andras only laughed and said carelessly:

‘Just a little too short, bailiff; next time you must do better than that.’

The bailiff turned red with anger at his rival’s scornful words, and answered quickly: ‘Next time you will have something harder to do.’ And turning his back on his friends, he went sulkily home. Andras, putting the money he had earned in his pocket, went home also.

The following spring Andras happened to be driving his reindeer along a great fiord to the west of Vadso. A boy who had met him hastened to tell the bailiff that his enemy was only a few miles off; and the bailiff, disguising himself as a Stalo, or ogre, called his son and his dog and rowed away across the fjord to the place where the boy had met Andras.

Now the mountaineer was lazily walking along the sands, thinking of the new hut that he was building with the money that he had won on the day of his lucky jump. He wandered on, his eyes fixed on the sands, so that he did not see the bailiff drive his boat behind a rock, while he changed himself into a heap of wreckage which floated in on the waves. A stumble over a stone recalled Andras to himself, and looking up he beheld the mass of wreckage. ‘Dear me! I may find some use for that,’ he said; and hastened down to the sea, waiting till he could lay hold of some stray rope which might float towards him. Suddenly–he could not have told why–a nameless fear seized upon him, and he fled away from the shore as if for his life. As he ran he heard the sound of a pipe, such as only ogres of the Stalo kind were wont to use; and there flashed into his mind what the bailiff had said when they jumped the boat: ‘Next time you will have something harder to do.’ So it was no wreckage after all that he had seen, but the bailiff himself.

It happened that in the long summer nights up in the mountain, where the sun never set, and it was very difficult to get to sleep, Andras had spent many hours in the study of magic, and this stood him in good stead now. The instant he heard the Stalo music he wished himself to become the feet of a reindeer, and in this guise he galloped like the wind for several miles. Then he stopped to take breath and find out what his enemy was doing. Nothing he could see, but to his ears the notes of a pipe floated over the plain, and ever, as he listened, it drew nearer.

A cold shiver shook Andras, and this time he wished himself the feet of a reindeer calf. For when a reindeer calf has reached the age at which he begins first to lose his hair he is so swift that neither beast nor bird can come near him. A reindeer calf is the swiftest of all things living. Yes; but not so swift as a Stalo, as Andras found out when he stopped to rest, and heard the pipe playing!

For a moment his heart sank, and he gave himself up for dead, till he remembered that, not far off, were two little lakes joined together by a short though very broad river. In the middle of the river lay a stone that was always covered by water, except in dry seasons, and as the winter rains had been very heavy, he felt quite sure that not even the top of it could be seen. The next minute, if anyone had been looking that way, he would have beheld a small reindeer calf speeding northwards, and by-and-by giving a great spring, which landed him in the midst of the stream. But, instead of sinking to the bottom, he paused a second to steady himself, then gave a second spring which landed him on the further shore. He next ran on to a little hill where he saw down and began to neigh loudly, so that the Stalo might know exactly where he was.

‘Ah! There you are,’ cried the Stalo, appearing on the opposite bank; ‘for a moment I really thought I had lost you.’

‘No such luck,’ answered Andras, shaking his head sorrowfully. By this time he had taken his own shape again.

‘Well, but I don’t see how I am to get to you’ said the Stalo, looking up and down.

‘Jump over, as I did,’ answered Andras; ‘it is quite easy.’

‘But I could not jump this river; and I don’t know how you did,’ replied the Stalo.

‘I should be ashamed to say such things,’ exclaimed Andras. ‘Do you mean to tell me that a jump, which the weakest Lapp boy would make nothing of, is beyond your strength?’

The Stalo grew red and angry when he heard these words, just as Andras meant him to do. He bounded into the air and fell straight into the river. Not that that would have mattered, for he was a good swimmer; but Andras drew out the bow and arrows which every Lapp carries, and took aim at him. His aim was good, but the Stalo sprang so high into the air that the arrow flew between his feet. A second shot, directed at his forehead, fared no better, for this time the Stalo jumped so high to the other side that the arrow passed between his finger and thumb. Then Andras aimed his third arrow a little over the Stalo’s head, and when he sprang up, just an instant too soon, it hit him between the ribs.

Mortally wounded as he was, the Stalo was not yet dead, and managed to swim to the shore. Stretching himself on the sand, he said slowly to Andras:

‘Promise that you will give me an honourable burial, and when my body is laid in the grave go in my boat across the fiord, and take whatever you find in my house which belongs to me. My dog you must kill, but spare my son, Andras.’

Then he died; and Andras sailed in his boat away across the fiord and found the dog and boy. The dog, a fierce, wicked-looking creature, he slew with one blow from his fist, for it is well known that if a Stalo’s dog licks the blood that flows from his dead master’s wounds the Stalo comes to life again. That is why no REAL Stalo is ever seen without his dog; but the bailiff, being only half a Stalo, had forgotten him, when he went to the little lakes in search of Andras. Next, Andras put all the gold and jewels which he found in the boat into his pockets, and bidding the boy get in, pushed it off from the shore, leaving the little craft to drift as it would, while he himself ran home. With the treasure he possessed he was able to buy a great herd of reindeer; and he soon married a rich wife, whose parents would not have him as a son-in-law when he was poor, and the two lived happy for ever after.


Source & Reference:
Featured Illustration: “Andras Baive shoots the Stalo.” by H.J Ford, published in The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (1906), Longmans, Green and Company

Why The Bear is Stumpy-tailed

Why the Bear is Stumpy-tailed is an old Norwegian fairy tale that was gathered from Norwegian folks by Jørgen Moe and Peter Christen Asbjørnsen in their fairy tale book Norske Folke-eventyr 1843.

One day the bear met the fox, who came slinking along with a string of fish he had stolen.

“Whence did you get those from?” asked the bear.

“Oh! my Lord Bruin, I’ve been out fishing and caught them,” said the fox.

So the bear had a mind to learn to fish too, and bade the fox tell him how he was to set about it.

“Oh! it’s an easy craft for you,” answered the fox, and soon learnt. You’ve only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail down into it; and so you must go on holding it there as long as you can. You’re not to mind if your tail smarts a little; that’s when the fish bite. The longer you hold it there the more fish you’ll get; and then all at once out with it, with a cross pull sideways, and with a strong pull too.”

Yes; the bear did as the fox had said, and held his tail a long, long time down in the hole, till it was fast frozen in. Then he pulled it out with a cross pull, and it snapped short off. That’s why Bruin goes about with a stumpy tail this very day.

Source & Reference:

Asbjørnsen, Peter Christen, Moe Jørgen Engebretsen, Popular Tales from the Norse (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1859)

Featured photo of a black bear in Horsefly Peninsula B.C. Courtesy of Alan D. Wilson Wikimedia Commons in Public Domain.



The Mysterious Cottingley Fairies

This is a fantastic tale of two cousins that lived in Cottingley, England in the early 20th century.

Elsie Wright was 15 yrs old and Francis Griffiths was 10 years old at the time these photos were taken in 1917.

Researchers claim there were 5 photographs taken altogether, with Elsie and Francis interacting with the fae.

Later Sir Arthur Conan Doyle discovered their work and posted their photos in his article about fairies in Strand Magazine December (1920)

After much investigation into these mysterious photos some deduced they were real while many thought they were fakes.

A total conundrum to say the least.

In 1983 the two cousins confessed they faked the fairy photos.

Later, Elsie passed away age 87 in 1988 and Francis died at age 79 in 1986.

Their Shenanigans created a stir among popular spiritualists at that time such as Edward Gardner.

The girls talent with photography and cut-out fairies is now documented in books and some folks still claim the photos are real.

Above Photo of Francis Griffiths frolicking with the fae.

Source & Reference:

*Gardner, Edward l. Fairies:The Cottingley Photographs and their Sequel. London Theosophical Society, 1945.

*Cooper, Joe (1982), “Cottingley: At Last the Truth”, The Unexplained

*Photos by Elsie Wight and Francis Griffiths (Public Domain)

Huldra: Northern European Forest Creature

Be watchful when you are hiking in the dark tall woods of Northern Europe, you just may come across a lovely woman that is really a creature termed ‘Huldra’ who are a legendary race of Norwegian forest spirits that dwell in the dark woods of Norway. Huldra is also known as Holder to Germanic folks. They are also spoken about in oral Sámi tradition and Lapplanders. According to Swedish folklore Huldra are called Tallemaja “pine tree Mary,” or skogsrå “spirits of the forest.” In Sámi folklore they are known as Ulda. The origin of the name Hulda connects her to the shaman Völva and the German figure Holder or Frau Holle.


She emerges out of the dark woods as a bewitching stunning, fair skin woman with long wavy, blonde hair wearing a crown of flowers upon her head with a large gap in its back sometimes filled with tree bark. The Huldra also have cow tail on their lower backs. The Swedish skogsrå has a fox tail on its lower back.

The Huldra are practical jokers known to seduce single men to wed them. Once at the altar the Huldra will turn herself into an old crone in order to shock the groom to be. Once the wedding follows through this spirited creature will gain tremendous strength.

There is a male species of the Huldra termed a huldrekall who dwell beneath the earth in underground tunnels and are hideously, unattractive compared to the Hulda. They have enormous large noses similar to trolls.


Sources & References:

  • K. M. Briggs, The Fairies in English Tradition and LiteratureUniversity of Chicago Press, London, 1967
  • Charlotte S. Sidgwick, The Story of Norway, Oxford 1885. Rivingtons Waterloo Place London.
  • Huldra, Featured illustration Skogsrå, Wikimedia Commons in Public Domain
  • “Huldra”  Theodor Kittelsen 1892. Illustration at Wikimedia Commons Public Domain.

Damona Gaulish Goddess of Cows

Today is Cow Appreciation Day. To celebrate this day let me introduce you to Damona  a Gaulish/Celtic goddess of Cows and healing who was worshiped by the Celts in Burgundy. She was a consort of Apollo Borvo and of Apollo Moritasgus.

Reproduction statue of the Damona, found at Hochscheid near another depicting the god Apollo Public Domain


  • Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

Giant Wolves/Wargs of Norse Mythology

Early beginnings for the pups Sköll and Hati. Odin caught them and held them in the kennels in Asgard in order to keep their father and an enemy to the Aesir, Hróðvitnir, at bay. According to Norse folklore, wargs are mythological giant wolves such as Fenrir, Sköll, and Hati.
In the Hervarar saga, King Heidrek is asked by Gestumblindi (Odin),

What is that lamp
which lights up men,

but flame engulfs it,

and wargs grasp after it always?

Heidrek perceives the answer is the Sun, explaining,

She lights up every land and shines over all men, and Skõll and Hati are called wargs.

Those are wolves, one going before the sun, the other after the moon.

Wargs are large, dangerous wolves.


Above: The Trundholm sun chariot from Bronze Age Denmark.

Hati, (meaning hateful) is a large Warg and the son of Hroðvitnir. He desires to ensnare the moon Máni the brother of Sól which he will eventually wolf down. Sköll (meaning mockery) is his accomplice. He is named after one of Saturn’s moons Saturn XLVII. Sköll chases Sól through the sky and will devour her and her horses at Ragnarök

Wolves in folklore also served as a symbol for menacing anthropoid beasts. For example, Gunnr’s horse was a kenning for “wolf” on the Rök Runestone, in the Lay of Hyndla, the völva (witch) Hyndla rides a wolf and to Baldur’s funeral, the giantess Hyrrokkin arrived on a wolf.
Once the wolves gobble up the Sun and moon the end of the world will begin with the eclipse to launch the apocalyptic event, Ragnarök.


Picture of the wolves Sköll meaning (revenge or mockery) and Hati meaning (hate) chasing Sól also known as Sunna (the sun goddess) and Máni (moon god). Public domain.

Máni and Sól were giants according to Norse Mythology. The solution to devour them is to take them out with giant wargs.

Do giant wolves exist in contemporary times? Today palaeontologists have discovered the Dire Wolf meaning ‘Fearsome dog”  Dire wolves roamed North and South America 125000-9500 years ago in the Late Pleistocene, early Holocene eras. They are similar in size to the Grey wolf and Yukon wolf.

A discovery of a giant wolf’s head dating back to 40000 years ago was found near the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, Siberia.

Read the article in the link below, courtesy of Live Science by staff writer Yasemin Saplakoglu


The Pleistocene wolf’s head measured 40cm in length, half the size of a modern wolf’s body which varies from 66 to 86cm.

Pleistocene wolf head

Above: The giant wolf with its fur and fangs still intact aged 2 to 4 years old when it perished. Photo by Albert Protopopov courtesy of strangesounds.org.


Source & References:

  • Encyclopedia of Norse Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic. by Claude Lecouteaux copyright ©2005,2007,2014  English translation by Inner Traditions International. ©2016 ISBN 9781620554807
  • Featured image: Odin and Fenris (1909) by Dorothy Hardy
  • Live Science by staff writer Yasemin Saplakoglu
  • https://www.livescience.com/65677-severed-head-ancient-wolf-russia.html


Australian Birthday Custom: Fairy Bread

The Fae must love Australians, given the fact that their Birthday celebrations include a delightful dessert called Fairy Bread.

Fairy Bread what is it? It’s white bread smeared with butter or margarine loaded with colourful sprinkles then sliced into triangles. It’s  served at children’s’ Birthday parties across Australia and New Zealand.

Photo below of a Fairy ornament with Fairy Bread credited to HI COOKERY

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The origin of Fairy Bread is a bit of a mystery. Some folks say it began in Australia in the 1920s, legend has it that a newspaper called The Hobart Mercury wrote about it in an article concerning children dining on Fairy Bread. The newspaper began on July 5th, 1854 by George Auber Jones and John Davies. The Hobert Mercury has evolved over the years into The Mercury owned by News Corp Australia, present editor is Chris Jones.

Earlier mention of Fairy Bread was cited by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in  his 1913 poem Fairy Bread, published in A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwood


Above Illustration ‘Fairy Bread’ by Florence Edith Storer

Below link is a recipe on How to make Fairy Bread on WikiHow


Source & Reference:

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods 1913
  • The Australian National Dictionary Centre
  • WikiHow
  • Fairy Bread poem illustrations in Public Domain
  • Featured Illustration of ‘Fairy Bread’ by Mary Ruth Hallock from ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1919