Näcken by Ernst Josephson

The Water sprite

Näcken or the "Water sprite" is mentioned in the old Nordic folktales as early as in the 1100 th century. "Näck" in Swedish means nude.

The Water Sprite can be seen close to the water. He is mostly seen in small lakes or in streams. At the coast he is called the Sea Nymph.

You can never really know how the Water Sprite looks, he can either be a man, a horse, a bull or even a cat or a dog! In the south of Sweden he is usually seen as a horse - "Bäckahästen", that entangle its victims by making them ride on its back.

The most common tales about the Water Sprite is about a human being. A naked man - a very erotic being - sitting in the stream, playing the most beautiful music on his violin. Maybe he has long green hair and beard of seaweed, but not always. The Water Sprite is a solitaire being and can often be seen close to bridges and water mills where he entangles human beings with his wonderful music.

The Water Sprite plays the violin and can he play more beautiful than any living being. Many fiddlers have told that they have learnt how to play the violin from The Water Sprite. The fiddler that dares goes to the stream three Thursdays in a row and listens to the rush of the stream. The third Thursday the Water Sprite shows up and then the fiddler must not be afraid - he has to stay. The Water Sprite makes a scratch at the fiddlers finger and takes three drops of blood as a payment for teaching his violin music. Then they play together all night and at dawn the fiddler is fully trained. But there are some dangers with this - sure, the fiddler has acknowledgements - but he could later be seen as a lost soul by others. The Water Sprite can also enchant the fiddler so the fiddler can't stop playing until someone comes and sets him free.

The Water Sprite is especially dangerous to women that he tries to seduce or in some other way try to trap. A woman can meet a very well dressed, beautiful man that proposes and ask her to follow him. If she says yes he takes her to the bottom of the lake or stream and she will never be seen again.

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